Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Oat MuffinsIt’s finally cooling down and beginning to feel like fall, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m pretty sure I did a literal jump for joy when I broke out my long sleeved shirts this past weekend, and another when I made hot coffee for the first time since April. I love this time of year.

Pumpkin Oat MuffinsOf course, food is half the reason I love fall (the other half is sweaters). I can’t wait to go apple picking, bake pies, and put cranberries in everything. But, of course, pumpkin is the real star of the show right now, and these muffins showcase it beautifully.

These Pumpkin Oat Muffins are the perfect breakfast or snack this time of year. They’re chock full of pumpkin and spices, with a tender crumb and a little extra texture from old-fashioned oats. Chocolate chips bring them over the top!

Pumpkin Oat MuffinsI’m not usually one to have chocolate with breakfast, but I’m making an exception for these. The muffins themselves are lower in sugar than most–the sweet chocolate evens out the flavor and plays beautifully off the pumpkin pie spice. If you don’t want to use chocolate chips, I highly recommend swapping them for an equal volume of toasted chopped pecans.

Pumpkin Oat MuffinsMy favorite thing about this recipe? It’s super easy. It comes together in minutes, and there’s no mixer required! All you’ll need here is a whisk and a silicone spatula. In fact, using a mixer would make these muffins tough. By using some elbow grease and limiting the number of stirs to 20 or less, the gluten in the flour doesn’t develop, leaving us with soft, tender muffins.

But enough shop talk. Put these Pumpkin Oat Muffins on your to-make list this season! Have one or two with your morning coffee, and get your days started right!Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Oat Muffins
makes 16 standard muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12 cup standard muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Stir in light brown and granulated sugars, followed by oil, pumpkin purée, and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients, and whisk no more than 15-20 times to combine. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats and chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with remaining batter, filling any unused muffins cups halfway with water to prevent the pan from warping.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you don’t have buttermilk, you may use a combination of regular milk and vinegar. Put one teaspoon of white or apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup, and then fill with milk to the 1/3 cup mark. Let sit five minutes before using as written. Do not use skim or fat-free milk.

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter BrowniesYesterday was full of surprises. At 6pm I was headed to the grocery store to pick up cilantro for the chicken fajitas I was making at work, when my boss called. Three hours later, I was serving dinner to Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Victor Ochen. Just…what?

Now, if I had known that a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee were coming to dinner, I probably would have done a few things differently. I would have worn makeup and a nicer outfit, for one. And I probably wouldn’t have put chicken fajitas and brownies on the menu. But when life throws you a huge curveball, you just have to go with it.

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter BrowniesUltimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter BrowniesI still haven’t had time to absorb it all, but I know one thing to be true: everyone loves chocolate and peanut butter, even Nobel Peace Prize Nominees. When I cleared the dinner plates and brought out dessert, I didn’t know what to expect. Do Ugandan humanitarians like peanut butter?* Is it weird to serve candy-topped brownies to someone who spoke at the United Nations just moments before showing up at my boss’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights?** What does a person even do when they find out they’re throwing an impromptu dinner party for one of the ten most influential people in Africa?***

1. Yes.
2. Probably.
3. They make extra guacamole and thank their lucky stars that they brought dessert to work.

Yeah, yesterday was weird. But it was also amazing.

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter BrowniesBut enough about my day. Let’s talk about these Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies. They’re goooood. And how couldn’t they be? The base is my favorite cocoa brownie recipe. It’s layered with a mixture of peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. All of that is topped with Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, and miniature peanut butter cups. They’re a chocolate and peanut butter lover’s dream dessert!

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter BrowniesI can usually restrain myself around baked goods, but I ate two of these for breakfast yesterday. They’re that delicious. Knowing I’d eat the whole batch if they remained in my apartment, I boxed them up so my boss could take them to her office. And thank goodness I did–if they hadn’t been on the counter, I don’t know what I would have served for dessert last night.Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, 16-25 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup Reese’s Pieces Baking Pieces
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish and line with parchment. Grease the parchment. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. Mixture will be thick. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the top of the brownie batter. Spread it out with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle the top with Reese’s Pieces Baking Pieces, chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, and miniature peanut butter cups. Lightly press toppings into the condensed milk layer.

Bake for 30-32 minutes, until the center just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to lift cooled brownies out of the pan. Slice and serve.

Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox Cake

Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox CakeIt’s finally fall! And you know what that means–pumpkin everything! I have tons of pumpkin recipes on the docket for the next couple of months, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’m starting the best baking season of the year with a twofer: Pumpkin Wafers and Pumpkin Icebox Cake! Because the only thing better than pumpkin cookies is a cake made out of them, right?!

Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox CakeThese recipes couldn’t be easier. The Pumpkin Wafers are a seasonal adaptation of my recipe for Vanilla Wafers (make those–way better than the box). The dough has tons of pumpkin pie spice and a good dose of pumpkin purée in addition to the usual suspects. If you’re looking for a great cookie to have with tea or coffee this season, this is the one!

These wafers are completely eggless. If there were eggs and pumpkin in this recipe, there would be too much moisture; the resulting wafers would be soft and cakey. By replacing the volume of eggs with pumpkin purée, the dough bakes into crispy, crunchy little wafers, ideal for dunking in coffee or layering in an icebox cake. And speaking of icebox cake…

Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox CakeThis cake, y’all. It’s so easy and so good, it’s ridiculous. Arrange pumpkin wafers in a layer on the bottom of a springform pan (or on a cake plate), and top them with a layer of cream cheese-infused whipped cream. Continue alternating layers until there are four of each.

Then chill the cake for 24 hours. Yes, a whole day. This is where the real magic happens–the moisture from the cream softens the wafers until they’re soft and cake-like. Where icebox cakes made with storebought wafers or graham crackers are ready after an overnight chill, homemade wafers are sturdier and require more time. So this cake does require some advanced planning, but between mixing the dough, baking and cooling the wafers, and assembling the cake, the active work time is only about 90 minutes.

Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox Cake
Sliced after 12 hours
Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox Cake
Sliced after 24 hours

I cannot over-stress the importance of chilling this cake. See the broken off piece on the end of this slice? I cut this cake after only 12 hours because I was chasing daylight. MISTAKE! Don’t be like me. When I went back for more cake later that night, the wafers had softened completely and the cake was much easier to slice. Even if you do slice it too soon though, this cake will still be absolutely delicious.Pumpkin Wafers & Pumpkin Icebox Cake

Let me know if you make one (or both!) of these recipes on Instagram @e2bakesbrooklyn!

Pumpkin Wafers
makes about 12 dozen small cookies

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in light brown and granulated sugar, followed by pumpkin and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely.

Scoop dough by the teaspoon and roll into balls. Place dough balls about 1 1/2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes, until golden at the edges and a bit soft. Let cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough. Wafers should harden as they cool. If they don’t, pop them back in the oven for an additional minute.

Wafers will keep in an airtight container for at least a week.

Pumpkin Icebox Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

12 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened for 30 minutes
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups heavy cream, cold
1 recipe Pumpkin Wafers

Place cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese mixture 1/3 at a time, mixing on low until incorporated. Once all cream cheese has been added, beat mixture on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Arrange some Pumpkin Wafers in an even layer in the bottom of a springform pan.* Top with 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture. Top with another layer of wafers, followed by another layer of whipped cream. Continue until there are four layers each of wafers and cream. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 24-30 hours.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the cake and release the cake from the pan. Serve cold.

Cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Note:

If you do not have a springform pan, cake may be assembled on a cake plate or cake stand. Arrange cookies in a 9-inch circle, and layer with the whipped cream mixture, as written.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesA couple of months ago, my boss went on a weeklong health retreat. When she came back, she was totally crazy about some crisp-chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies she had while she was away, going so far as to bring a bag home with her. She insisted I try one before asking if I could replicate them. I agreed to try, but with some major reservations.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesMaking cookies without gluten meant I had to basically start from square one. You see, gluten-free baking is a lot different from standard baking. In recipe after recipe, I rely on the structural and textural qualities of regular all-purpose flour to keep my cookies soft and chewy. Gluten, a protein found in wheat (and a few other grains), is activated when the flour meets the wet ingredients. It develops as the dough mixes and allows cookies to bake up super chewy. Without it, I was lost.

I looked around online for the recipe from the retreat itself, but came up empty. I also checked a couple of well-regarded gluten-free baking blogs to see if they had anything that might be similar to those cookies, but I had no such luck. I finally went to the source, looking at the list of ingredients on the side of the bag and going from there. With that list and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, I set out to recreate those cookies, figuring it would take two or three solid tries.

It took two months and ten batches. Oy.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesGluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesBut here they are, my Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re not exact replicas of the cookies my boss brought home (they’re definitely not crisp), but they are damn good. The base of these cookies is a combination of a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, almond meal, a touch of ground chia seed, and a little bit of leavener. Together with the wet ingredients, this combination bakes up into soft, tender cookies.

Since these cookies don’t have any gluten, they are not as chewy or puffy as the others you see on this site. I tried adding different quantities of almond meal and adjusting the leaveners in an attempt to get a chewier texture and a puffy shape, but those attempts resulted in cookies that puffed but didn’t spread, and were so crumbly that they practically disintegrated after one bite! My Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are a little on the thinner side, but the tender texture and hint of caramel-almond flavor more than make up for it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand gluten-free baking, but I am really happy with this recipe. My boss and her teenage son both loved these cookies, so I must be doing something right.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons ground chia (or ground flaxseed)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup turbinado sugar (or sucanat)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together gluten-free all-purpose flour, almond meal, ground chia, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add turbinado sugar and maple syrup, and mix to combine. Beat in egg and egg yolk, followed by vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing to combine completely. Mix in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop), roll them into balls, and set them at least three inches apart on prepared pans. Use the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesIn five days, I will post a pumpkin recipe. I promise.

For some reason, this year I’m insisting on holding out on all the pumpkin until it’s “officially” fall. It’s getting silly. I have had absolutely zero recipe ideas this week that don’t involve cracking open a can of the orange stuff. Not a one. But I’m stubborn, and so I am holding out for exactly five more days. If, however, you are not as ridiculous as I am, you can get your pumpkin fix here and here.

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesThank goodness I have an ever-growing list of recipe ideas on my phone. When I feel stuck on an ingredient, or if I have had too many fails in a row and don’t feel up to baking, that list always helps me to get excited about being in the kitchen again. Without it, I may have put off sharing these Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies until after Christmas, and that’d be a real shame because they are fabulous.

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesCaramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesCaramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesThese cookies, y’all. They’re super chewy, studded with crispy crushed potato chips, and stuffed with gooey caramel. Top that fantastic mix of textures with an addictive sweet and salty flavor combination, and they’re absolutely irresistible! Trust me, these cookies make holding out for pumpkin season just a little bit easier.

Have a great weekend!Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups crushed ruffled potato chips*
20 caramel candies,* sliced in quarters

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in light brown and granulated sugars, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition. Add in crushed potato chips, mixing just until dispersed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Flatten the balls. Place a quarter-caramel in the middle of each dough ball and wrap the dough around it, using your fingers to smooth any seams. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until they look just slightly underbaked.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for ten minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Serve cookies warm or at room temperature.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1.  Use sturdy chips–if they can’t scoop up dip without breaking, don’t use them here. Thin, flimsy chips will basically “melt” into the dough. Use ruffled or kettle-cooked potato chips.

2.  I use Kraft caramels.