Butterscotch Cream Pie {Two Year Anniversary!}

Butterscotch Cream PieThis blog is going to turn two this weekend. Two!

When I posted my first recipe in October of 2015, I didn’t know if I’d make it two months as a blogger, let alone two years!

Butterscotch Cream PieFor those keeping count, that’s 220 recipes, 230 total posts, and about 2,147 cans of LaCroix 😊

Thank you for reading my posts, following me on social media, sharing my work, and most importantly, making my recipes! Your support makes running this little site more fun than work—I can’t wait to see what we bake up in year three 💗 But before we get to that, let’s finish out this second year with Butterscotch Cream Pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieSomething happens around this time every year where I totally lose my ability to think about anything but pie. It’s fall in New York City, y’all—the light is golden, the leaves are turning, it’s…77 degrees.

Butterscotch Cream PieI’ve got plenty of traditional pastry crust pies coming your way next month (because Thanksgiving!), but on what is probably, hopefully one of the last warmish days we’ll have for a while (please, please, please let it be so), I’m sharing a pie that is nearly-no-bake, bursting with caramelized brown sugar flavor, and best served ice cold.

Butterscotch. Cream. Pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieLet’s talk pie crust. I love a traditional graham cracker crust. I’m just crazy about the crumbly texture, the honey graham flavor, and the butter—it’s a combination that simply can’t be beat…

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream Pie…unless you cut it with jagged pieces of saltine cracker. And then mix that combination with dark brown sugar and melted butter. And press it into a pie plate. And bake it ‘til it gets a little toasty. This is definitely one for the sweet & salty obsessed 🙋

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieIt gets better. We’re going to fill that crust with homemade butterscotch pudding! I took the liberty of testing eight different iterations of butterscotch pudding, and this version is everything I hoped for and more. It’s smooth and creamy and straightforward and you don’t need a candy thermometer to make it. Oh, and it tastes like butterscotch and not just brown sugar…which wouldn’t be anything to complain about, but that’s not what we’re going for today.

Butterscotch Cream PieMaking butterscotch pudding is super simple, but it’s a little different from the pudding fillings you’ll find in my Chocolate and Coconut Cream Pies. One thing it definitely has in common with them? It cannot be left alone. Do not step away. Do not stop whisking. Make sure all your ingredients are prepared and within arm’s reach because once you start making pudding, you’re in it for the long haul. Or like fifteen minutes.

My butterscotch pudding starts with bringing dark brown sugar, light corn syrup (not the same as high fructose corn syrup!), water, and lemon juice to a bubble. This melts the sugar, keeping the finished pudding from being grainy, and gives us that caramelized brown sugar flavor that makes butterscotch so dang good.

Butterscotch Cream PieLet it boil for a minute, whisking constantly all the time, before turning the heat to low and adding some cornstarch and a teaspoon of salt. Then slowly and carefully whisk in three cups of whole milk. This will cause the molten sugar to bubble up somewhat dramatically, but don’t panic! Just keep whisking. Just keep whisking.

From there, the pudding is pretty straightforward. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, whisk half of it into some beaten egg yolks, bring that to a boil, and then remove everything from the heat and stir in some butter and vanilla. For whatever reason, this pudding is more prone to lumps that any others I’ve made. I highly recommend passing it through a sieve (or a clean wire mesh colander) before pouring the filling into the pie crust.

Butterscotch Cream PieOh my.

Press plastic wrap to the top of the pudding and then chill the pie for a few hours. You want it super cold. Remove the plastic wrap, whip some cream, and spread it all over the surface of the pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieMmhmm.

Butterscotch Cream PieY’all, it doesn’t get much better than this. Butterscotch Cream Pie is cold, creamy, sweet, full of buttery, dark brown sugary butterscotch flavor, and has a salty punch from that graham and saltine crust. Aside from a dog, a good man, and a job where I can wear stretchy pants everyday, it’s basically everything I want in life.

Butterscotch Cream PieHappy Friday, y’all. Happy two years, E2 Bakes.

Butterscotch Cream PieLooking for more butterscotch? Or more pie? Try my Salted Butterscotch Pie—it’s the best of both worlds.

Butterscotch Cream Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie

Crust:
3 ounces saltine crackers (about 30 crackers/most of a sleeve)
5 full sheets honey graham crackers
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Butterscotch Filling:
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

Place saltines and graham crackers in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Close the bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into small pieces. Pour saltine/graham cracker mix to a medium mixing bowl and stir in dark brown sugar. Add melted butter and fold to coat. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Use a measuring cup to help pack the mixture down. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Combine dark brown sugar, light corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring to a bubble over medium-high heat. Let boil one minute before turning heat to low. Do not burn. Whisk in cornstarch and salt. Stir in milk—mixture may boil up violently, but just keep whisking. Return heat to medium-high and continue whisking until mixture thickens and boils for one minute. Remove from heat.

Temper the egg yolks. Whisking the yolks constantly, slowly pour in half of the molten mixture until completely combined. Add egg yolk mixture to the pot and turn heat back up to medium-high. Continue to whisk until mixture boils for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and vanilla. Mixture should coat the back of a spoon.

Push filling through a sieve to remove any lumps. Pour filling into prepared crust. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and chill for at least six hours or overnight.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream.

Serve immediately. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Before I get to the recipe, I just want to say thank you for the overwhelming response to On Self-Care & Food Blogging. I’m so fortunate to have such thoughtful and supportive readers.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}While reorganizing my Recipe Index last week, I was astonished at the lack of vegan pumpkin recipes in my repertoire. Besides being a delicious vehicle for warm autumnal spices, pumpkin is an excellent egg replacer—something about the water content and fibrous innards, I suppose. All I know is that if you use 1/4 cup of the stuff in place of each large egg in a cookie recipe (and add a little pumpkin pie spice), you’ll likely escape the cakey cookie problem that plagues so many home bakers this time of year. And if you substitute melted coconut oil for the usual butter…well, you might suddenly have a lot of vegan friends asking about Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Not that I’d know anything about that 😊

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan} come together easily—no need for a mixer. Just whisk together some melted coconut oil, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla, before folding in a mixture of flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}At this point, you could add anything you like to the dough—dried fruit, nuts, candy, you name it. I’m usually all for that sort of thing, but sometimes simple is best. Pumpkin and chocolate are wonderful together; I made that pairing into some killer blondies a couple of weeks ago and I’m bringing back again today. I mean, why mess with perfection? Vegans like pumpkin and chocolate too.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling it into balls and baking at 350F for about ten minutes. They won’t spread much, remaining tall and puffy after they come out of the oven. Let them cool on a rack for a few minutes before enjoying.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}I am crazy about these cookies, y’all. They have chewy edges and soft centers, and the chocolate somehow stays a little melty long after it has reached room temperature. For those of you concerned about these cookies having a coconut flavor from the coconut oil, know that it’s very mild, especially if you use the refined stuff. As with most pumpkin baked goods, the autumnal flavor of these cookies intensifies the day after they’re made, easily masking any tropical undertones and making this a quality make-ahead recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}A pumpkin recipe that’s packed with chocolate, vegan, and is best if made ahead?! I’d be running to the kitchen right now if I were you.Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}
makes about 22 medium cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup coconut oil, melted (use refined for a milder flavor)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped

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

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together coconut oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold dry ingredients into wet. Fold in chopped dark chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in two tablespoon increments. Roll into balls and place them at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 5 minutes before rotating the pans top to bottom and baking an additional 4-5 minutes. Let cookies cool on pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Pumpkin flavor will intensify as the days go on.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging

Disclaimer: I sat down to write a Friday Favorites post and this is what came out. If posts about mental health and self-care aren’t for you, don’t fret—I’ve got some new recipes coming your way next week. Oh, and you should make these this weekend.

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I decided to post three times a week. It was a lot of work for someone who had no experience with this sort of thing, but I figured that if I was going to have a blog, I was going to take it seriously. With limited exception, I posted three times a week for the first fourteen months of this blog’s existence. 

That all changed last Christmas. I think I got burnt out from all my extra holiday work and then totally thrown off by an extended visit with my family in Texas. To put it simply, I got out of my regular routine and I’ve never quite gotten back into it.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Breakfast time on Swans Island.
Since returning to Brooklyn in January, I’ve had a few weeks where I’ve managed to get three posts up, but those have been few and far between. This summer, I somewhat intentionally put E2 Bakes on the back burner and only posted once a week. I had a lot going on—besides work, I quit smoking (three months off nicotine this week 🙌🏻). I also muddled through the end of a truly gnarly 18-month bout of depression. Maybe that’s too personal for a food blog, but it’s what happened. When my brain fog finally (finally) started to clear in the middle of August, I made some changes in the name of self-care.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
View from the Red Hook Waterfront.
First, I switched grocery stores. Bet you weren’t expecting that. That may sound minor and totally out of left field, but if you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I think grocery shopping is a blast. Since I returned from Maine, I’ve made time every weekend to take the fifty minute walk down to Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a good way for me to clear my head (especially once I get to the benches near the waterfront), and I can’t help but be inspired by the quantity and quality of goods at that market. I still buy my coffee beans at Sahadi’s and hop over to Trader Joe’s and Key Food for things here and there, but I do the vast majority of my shopping at Fairway. With so many great options in my neighborhood, my new ritual might seem ridiculous to some, but I shop so frequently for others that this simple act of shopping just for me and at my favorite grocery store qualifies as radical self-care. Oh, and for those of you wondering, I take the bus home. <—I’m asked about this all the time.

In conjunction with my new grocery shopping ritual, I’ve also started taking better physical care of myself. I’ve written before about my weight and how I try to practice something like mindful eating. I’d love to tell you that I have a perfect, balanced relationship with food, but like a lot of people, I struggled after I quit smoking. It all came to a head when I made the mistake of stepping on the scale for the first time in years on the night before I left for a beach vacation. <—tip: don’t do that.

Since then, I’ve concentrated more on my meals and nutrition. Given the amount of baking and recipe testing I do every week, strict diets aren’t for me right now. Instead, I’ve spent time planning meals that are heavy on nutrients and limiting my snacking to fruits and vegetables. I’ve also spent more time consciously exercising; this is definitely helped by the smoking cessation. I still bake and eat sugar (obviously!) and have no intention of stopping, but I try to limit my consumption to once a day. So far, so good.

As a result of all these changes, I’ve got some new meal-time recipes to share with y’all over the coming weeks and months. Please consider this photo of a recent batch of Sausages with Roasted Grapes as a teaser.

On Self-Care & Food BloggingSo, why exactly am I telling you all this? Because another part of my new-and-improved self-care regimen has been to get back to regular posting. Blogging makes me happy; if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. I have no plans to go back to three posts a week—with a day job and a social life, that is just too demanding. Two posts per week, however, has proven to be doable. You may not have noticed, but I have stepped up my posting since the beginning of September. With the exception of one Friday where most of Brooklyn lost internet access, I’ve posted twice a week since Labor Day.

My posting is not on an exact schedule right now, but I am headed in that direction again. For now, I am trying to post on Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday, all at around 1pm Eastern Time. I am planning to start posting earlier in the day soon, but as each post requires about 12-15 hours of my time, I’m deciding to concentrate on creating quality content for now and worry about timely publishing later. In addition, I’ll be debuting a more streamlined Recipe Index by the beginning of next week.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
New favorite chocolate chip cookies. Coming at you soon.
If any of you have any recipe requests or ways that you think I could improve this little corner of the internet, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to reach out to me via email or on any of my social media accounts. Your feedback is always appreciated.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Out of the fog.
It feels good to be back on a blogging regimen these past few weeks. After all, this blog was originally created by me for me. I wanted a food blog for six years before I got brave and crazy enough to hit “publish.” The fact that any of you come here to read my ramblings and make my recipes is just icing on the not-so-proverbial cake. Thanks for reading.

Apple Shortbread Bars

Apple Shortbread BarsEvery year, I get so concentrated on making pumpkin treats that I nearly forget the other flavors of fall! That’s really a shame—what’s fall without maple, pear, sweet potato, and even grape?! I have recipes highlighting each of those flavors (and even more pumpkin things!) on the docket between now and Thanksgiving, but today, I’m all about apples.

Specifically, these Apple Shortbread Bars 🍎🍎🍎

Apple Shortbread BarsThese bars are an autumnal twist on a sweet cherry treat I made this past summer. They’re basically apple pie for people who don’t have the time and energy to make apple pie…like me right now.

Apple Shortbread BarsWhile I love the process of making pie (and eating pie, duh), I rarely have the time to do so. Between making and chilling the dough, preparing the filling, baking, and cooling, pie can easily be a 4+ hour commitment. Unless it’s a holiday, or I’ve somehow curbed my procrastination 😬😬, that simply isn’t going to happen.

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Bars are very mid-week-pie-craving-friendly. From peeling and dicing the apples…

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Barsto stirring them into a perfectly-spiced filling…

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Barsto making an easy four-ingredient brown sugar shortbread…

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Barsto assembling and baking…

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Barsto cooling, and slicing…

Apple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread BarsApple Shortbread Barsthese bars take just a couple of hours.

Apple Shortbread BarsYep, that’s how you get your homemade apple pie fix on a Wednesday.Apple Shortbread Bars

Apple Shortbread Bars
makes one 9-inch pan, about 9-16 bars

Filling:
2 large baking apples,* peeled and 1/2-inch diced (about 3 cups of apple chunks)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make apple filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine diced apples and apple cider vinegar. Fold in light brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, light brown sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Spoon apples over the top, leaving behind any excess liquid.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the apple layer.

Bake bars on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until browned. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let bars cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into squares. Serve.

Leftover Apple Shortbread Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to four. They will soften over time.

Note:

I like to use two different varieties of apple for a more complex flavor. For these bars, I used a tart Granny Smith and a sweet Honeycrisp.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesWhile I am all about the Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake I posted on Wednesday, I’ll be the first to admit that it might be intimidating. I sort of live for complex recipes, but I totally get that a recipe involving making your own toasted hazelnut meal and relying on whipped egg whites for structure might not be for everyone 😬

Today, let’s keep things simple. Really, really, really simple. Let’s make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesY’all, this recipe is about as simple as it gets. To make these seasonal sweets, you’ll only need a bowl, a whisk and a silicone spatula. No mixer required!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThis recipe is just a pumpkined-up (<–let me have that one 🙏🏻 ) version of my regular blondie recipe. Adding pumpkin pie spice is a no-brainer, but how do I get pumpkin into these cute little bars?! Easy—just omit the egg white (but keep the yolk!) and add 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée in its place! This keeps our blondies chewy rather than cakey, as pumpkin baked goods are prone to be. If you want cake, make my Pumpkin Bundt Cake—yes, I’m still obsessed with it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThe batter for these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies comes together in about ten minutes and bakes up in twenty. By far the most time consuming part of this process is waiting for the blondies to cool…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies…but it only takes an hour and it’s totally worth it. I mean, look at these clean edges 😍

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesYou’re going to love these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies! They’ve got all the chewy texture you expect from a great blondie, all the pumpkin flavor you want, and chocolate. Plus, you can practically make ‘em with your eyes closed!

But don’t, okay? 👀 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
makes one 9-inch pan, about 9-16 blondies 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in pumpkin purée and egg yolk, followed by vanilla. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Fold in 2/3 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Dot the top with remaining 2 tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the foil overhang to remove them to a cutting board. Remove foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice blondies. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.