Tag Archives: fall baking

Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresIt’s fall, y’all! And not a minute too soon. I have been obsessed with these Pumpkin Pie S’mores for weeks and am so excited that I finally get to share them on here today!Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresYou read that right: Pumpkin Pie S’mores! As in graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and a little puddle of pumpkin pie all stacked together in one perfect bite. These are absolutely magical, if I do say so myself. And, I do, since I’ve been eating one around midnight pretty much everyday since Labor Day.Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresThe key to this whole operation is a homemade Pumpkin Spice Spread. It’s basically a soft-set pumpkin pie filling that can be used anywhere you could use a little pumpkin spice flourish. Toast, biscuits, scones, cookies, swirled through no-churn ice cream, spread on a waffle, used as a fruit dip, or—you know it—stacked into seasonal s’mores! If you’re into pumpkin, this is a total game changer.Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresFor those of you wondering if you can bypass the homemade spread by using pumpkin butter or mixing together some canned pumpkin, spices and brown sugar for your s’mores, the answer is “sure…but it won’t be the same.” While those options both work in a pinch, neither is as rich and decadent as Pumpkin Spice Spread. It’s made with sweetened condensed milk and has some body from egg yolks, so it’s every bit as luxurious as its pastry-wrapped counterpart and far more versatile. You’ll be seeing a lot of this stuff on here this season!Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresThe whole Pumpkin Spice Spread process takes 25 minutes, fifteen of which are hands-off. The most “involved” step is caramelizing the pumpkin, and that’s no trouble at all. It’s literally pushing a cup of pumpkin purée around a dry sauté pan for ten minutes until some of its liquid evaporates and it darkens ever so slightly. This is to ensure that your Pumpkin Spice Spread is nice and thick and never one-note. If you’re pinched for time, you could probably get away without this step, but it really makes a difference in the end product.

The second and final step is to whisk the pumpkin together with the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, a spoonful of pumpkin pie spice and some salt. Set the whole bowl over simmering water for fifteen minutes, stirring when you remember, and…that’s it. I mean, you should definitely let it cool, but…that’s it.Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresWell, except for the part where you dig it out of the fridge every night and sandwich some with graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow. Oh yeah, that’s it.Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

Pumpkin Spice Spread
makes about 2 cups

1 cup pure pumpkin purée (I use Libby’s)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place pumpkin in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until slightly drier and a tiny bit darker in color. Remove from heat.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk in pumpkin purée. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (it will thicken further as it cools). Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minute before transferring to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Pie S’mores
makes 4 s’mores

4 whole sheets honey graham crackers
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Spread
4 large marshmallows

Carefully break each graham cracker sheet in half to produce 2 squares (8 squares total). Place bottom-side-up on a surface.

Top 4 of the graham squares with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) each of the Pumpkin Spice Spread.

Toast the marshmallows. Place each marshmallow on a skewer. Turn a gas stove flame (or other heat source) to medium-low. Carefully toast marshmallow over the top before transferring it onto Pumpkin Spice Spread. Repeat with other marshmallows. Turn off stove. If you’d like to toast your marshmallows with another at-home method, see here.

Top marshmallows with the remaining graham squares, top-side-up. Serve immediately.Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’moresPumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Hello from San Francisco! I’m visiting to celebrate my best friend, Tad’s 35th birthday (it’s today!) and do whatever people do in San Francisco. I’ve never been here before, so I’m excited to find out what that is. So far, it’s seeing Hamilton (again!) on tour and going to Sausalito.

What all this has to do with maple syrup and baking, I don’t know. What I do know is that I love to cook and bake with maple syrup, especially this time of year. It’s so delicate, but has incredible depth and versatility. I love it on pancakes and waffles, of course, but I’ve used it in everything from cookies to cake to nut butter to popcorn to pie! I’ve even got a new maple-centric recipe coming at you next week. But first, here are five of my favorite maple recipes from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Creme Sandwich Cookies

This is the first maple-based recipe ever to appear on this blog, and one of the first recipes to appear on this blog, period. I hated the photos, and so have sort of buried it in the archives…but no more! I re-baked the recipe this week, so now the photos reflect how delicious these chewy, creme-filled sandwich cookies actually are. Oh, they are goooood. I’ve had more than a few people claim these are the best cookies they’ve ever eaten. I don’t know about that, but I mean…they’re not not the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Layer Cake

I made this cake on a whim last fall and it’s still one of my favorite recipes on this site! It’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of pure maple syrup baked into and brushed onto the cake layers, and plenty more whipped into buttercream! This would make a great fall birthday cake or non-pie Thanksgiving dessert.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Pecan Pie

I made this pie nearly three years ago when this blog turned one! It’s got all the sweet, sticky, gooey nuttiness you want in a pecan pie, but it’s made with pure maple syrup instead of the usual dark corn syrup.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple-Roasted Pecan Butter

If you’ve never made homemade pecan butter, go do it right now. Don’t forget to add a little maple syrup and spice and to spread it on every piece of bread and fruit in your house.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupSalty Maple Caramel Corn

Y’all, storebought caramel corn has nothing on this salty, maple-spiked homemade version. Not. A. Thing. Sweet & salty with a crisp, glass-like exterior—good luck not eating the entire batch yourself!Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Have you made these or any of my other maple treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Orange Cardamom Morning Buns

Orange Cardamom Morning BunsThere’s little rhyme or reason as to what I choose to blog—it’s usually just whatever I’ve felt like making lately. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a breakfast kick. I’m not exactly sure how many fall breakfast options I think you need, but it’s at least three: waffles, a pumpkin-spiced oven pancake, and these Orange Cardamom Morning Buns.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsI mean, look at these sticky, swirly things! You need them. I need them. Preferably on Saturday morning alongside my daily French press.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsThey’re flaky and fluffy, filled with a fragrant orange-cardamom sugar, and twisted to perfection. The crowning glory is a brush of orange-cardamom glaze as soon as the buns come out of the oven, which gives them an extra layer of flavor and their gleaming appearance.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsOh, and they take two hours start-to-finish—a rarity in the from-scratch breakfast bun realm. And their twists? Much easier than they look. My motor skills are seriously lacking (I am comically bad with scissors), so if I can shape them, anyone can.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning BunsJust twist a strip of dough and tie it in a knot. Boom, done.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsEven if you do it “wrong” (which is near-impossible), I promise they will still turn out beautifully. And even if they don’t (which is also near-impossible—can you see that I did this with one hand?), call ‘em rustic. That’s what I do. If anyone complains, eat theirs. That’s also what I do.Orange Cardamom Morning BunsWhat?! You don’t need that negativity at breakfast.Orange Cardamom Morning Buns

Orange Cardamom Morning Buns
makes 12 buns

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
pinch of fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Glaze:
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Make the filling. Combine sugar and orange zest in a small bowl. Rub together with your fingers to release the oils in the zest. Use a fork to stir in cardamom and salt.

Shape the buns. Return dough to floured surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll dough into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Brush dough with butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.

Mentally divide the dough into thirds, like an unfolded letter. Place half the sugar mixture in the middle third of the dough—it’ll be a 12×6-inch section surrounded by two buttered sections of the same size.

Carefully grab one short side of the dough and fold it over the center, so that the dimensions are now 12×12-inches. Brush the top of the folded section with more butter and scatter on the remaining sugar mixture. Fold the other short side over the top so that the dimensions are 12×6-inches. Tap edges “closed” with your rolling pin.

Carefully lift and turn dough over so that the seam is against the floured surface. Roll the dough so that the dimensions are 14×8-inches.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim the short edges of the dough by about 1/2-inch. Slice dough into 12 strips. Working with one strip at a time, twist the ends until you have a loosely-twisted rope of dough. Carefully bring ends toward one another until they cross over one another and create a small hole. Tuck ends into that hole. Place shaped buns on prepared pans, leaving about 6 inches of space between (I can get 6 on a half-sheet sized pan).

Cover pans loosely with wax paper (or parchment) and let rise in a warm, draft-free environment for another 25-30 minutes. Remove wax paper (or parchment). They will not seem to have changed drastically, but if you poke one with your finger, the indentation should remain. If any ends have come loose, just nudge them back into the centers.

Place oven racks in the center positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake buns for 10 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake another 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown.

While buns are baking, make the glaze. Combine orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in cardamom and butter.

Use a pastry brush to brush warm buns with glaze. Buns are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so.

Orange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning BunsOrange Cardamom Morning Buns

Maple Thumbprints

Maple ThumbprintsIt may have been 90 degrees in NYC this past Monday, but nobody is happier than I am that fall is finally here, not least because it means I have an excuse to make these Maple Thumbprints.Maple ThumbprintsAnd make them, I have—five test batches before getting them just right. I used the dough from my Maple Spice Stars as a starting place, and then adjusted the spice, sugars, and leavener until I achieved exactly what I wanted: a puffy, slightly soft maple cookie with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and a well of maple icing in the center. The ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea on a fall afternoon, you know?Maple ThumbprintsIf you love maple syrup like I do, these cookies are for you. The dough contains 2/3 cup and the icing has another 1/4 cup! I vastly prefer Grade A Dark Amber & Robust Taste (formerly known as Grade B) for its deep flavor, but any pure maple syrup you have will do the trick.Maple ThumbprintsMaple ThumbprintsMaple ThumbprintsMaple, like pumpkin, is a flavor that improves over time. Though these cookies will taste good immediately after they’re baked and filled, they won’t taste particularly maple-y until a few hours later. By the next day, you’ll have no problem finding the sweet nuances of maple syrup in both the cookies and the icing.Maple ThumbprintsYou’ll notice that many of the maple cookie recipes out there (including this one) call for maple extract for a richer flavor. This is because maple is a delicate flavor in baking, easily masked by its own sweetness. To that point, I tested both the dough and icing with 1/2 teaspoon each of maple extract (I like Boyajian), and while it works and certainly amplifies the flavor, I don’t think this recipe needs it. I did multiple taste tests and preferred the cookies made with only maple syrup every time. If you feel otherwise, feel free to add some extract. To each their own!Maple ThumbprintsThe point, as always, is to bake the cookies you want to eat. And to bake for the weather you want, not the weather you have. At least, that’s what I’m doing. If it means I’m eating autumnal cookies while sitting in front of a blasting air conditioner and praying for some crunchy leaves to step on, so be it.Maple Thumbprints

Maple Thumbprints
makes about 4.5 dozen cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber & robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Icing:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3-4 teaspoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown and granulated sugars, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll each into a ball. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Use the back of a very small spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just smooth them with your fingers.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes, rotating top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Cookies are done when puffed and no longer wet-looking. When you remove the cookies from the oven, press the back of a small spoon (I use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon) into the centers again. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Arrange cookies on a parchment or wax paper-lined surface for filling.

Make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 3 teaspoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the 1/2 teaspoon, if needed, until the glaze is thick but pourable.

Transfer icing to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag), twist it tight and snip off a very small corner. Fill wells in cookies as desired.

Icing will set after a few hours. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Place wax paper between layers for easiest storage.Maple ThumbprintsMaple Thumbprints