Pumpkin Madeleines

More pumpkin! These madeleines are fun to make, it's a really simple recipe and they could be decorated any way you wish. This is yet another Pinterest find. For which I'm grateful, as I learned about emulsions, something I'd never used in baking.

Our pantries have certainly changed over the years. I remember my mother had vanilla flavoring in her pantry and that was about it. (And my aunt had some lemon flavoring...she used it in all her baking recipes.) Over the years, we graduated to extracts and MY pantry now contains about 10 bottles of various extracts.
While reading this recipe, I noticed an emulsion was in the ingredient list. I'd never even heard of 
pumpkin spice bakery emulsion, but investigated and discovered emulsions are the flavor stars of the professional baking world. Where have I been? In the event you didn't know either: emulsions are a water-based alternative to alcohol-based flavor extracts. These flavorings are made to match the strength of an extract, but instead of the flavor being diluted in alcohol, it is suspended in a water base. According to what I read, baked goods made with emulsions retain more of that flavor after baking. Lorann's seems to be a favorite brand and I read someplace how divine the cream cheese emulsion is...I haven't tried that one yet. 

Having said all that, I must be totally honest with you after trying this emulsion....I really didn't like it all that much. For some reason it seemed to be a little "off", flavor-wise. Strange and I think I'm in the minority as everyone else seems to praise emulsions. Maybe the pumpkin one is not one of the better flavors, or perhaps I shouldn't have used it in the frosting.
 If someone has tried the cream cheese emulsion, let me know. And I'm wondering: does the home baker really need to use emulsions?

At any rate, this recipe has both extract and emulsion. I suppose you could replace the emulsion with more extract as they seem to be interchangeable: 1 teaspoon extract = 1 teaspoon emulsion. 

Pumpkin Madeleines
From: Created by Diane

10 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice bakery emulsion (Loranns...see below, got it at Amazon)
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8   teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375
Prepare Madeleine Pan with nonstick spray.
Beat eggs and sugar with mixer, add vanilla pumpkin emulsion, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
Mix in flour until blended.
Pour butter in a stream and mix on low until well blended.
Place 2 tablespoons of batter into each madeleine area of the pan.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until just golden.
Remove pan from oven and turn onto a cooling rack.
Allow Madeleines to cool completely.

Pumpkin Spice Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2-3 tablespoons water
2 drops orange food coloring
½ teaspoon pumpkin spice baking emulsion (Loranns)

Mix all ingredients until smooth, add a drop or two more water if you need it thinner.
Drizzle icing over cooled Madeleines.


Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

Last fall I made some gingerbread biscotti and everyone loved them. So when I saw some recipes for Pumpkin Pie Biscotti recently, I thought it would be fun to try. 
There are several recipes for it online and I read them all; one warned this biscotti did not get crisp in the middle and blamed it on the use of brown sugar. A couple solutions were offered: use part regular sugar instead of all brown and another was simply to bake longer. Because I love that brown sugar taste, I baked them longer in the final stage.
I confess, after baking the loaves (and while slicing for the next baking) I ate the heels of the loaves and Wow! Could barely contain myself from eating more. 

But I persevered and finished the second baking. Because I wanted crisp biscotti, I baked the slices longer than suggested in the original recipe and they got nice and crisp.  Check them for crispness while they're baking; all ovens are different. The time mentioned in the recipe below is how long it took mine to crisp.
Hope you have a chance to try these...I think I might like them better than the gingerbread biscotti.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted white chocolate, for drizzling or dipping

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are browned. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Change the whisk to the flat beater and slowly add the flour and then the pecans.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 3x10 inch log. Set the logs lengthwise on the prepared baking sheet, evenly spacing them apart.Bake until the logs are slightly firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 300°F . Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.
On a cutting board, with a serrated bread knife, cut each log diagonally into slices ½ inch thick. Be careful at this stage not to do too much tasting! LOL.
Place the cookies, cut sides up, in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until the biscotti are firm, about 15 minutes on each side, until crisp. Let cool completely.
Once the biscotti is completely cool, drizzle with white chocolate.

Recipe Note: The biscotti tastes best during the first few days, but will keep for up to a month in a sealed air-tight container.


Lori's Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread Sticks

Have you seen or tried Lori's cranberry pumpkin bread sticks? If not, you're in for a treat. So easy to make, with barely any rising time at all. You can make them from start to finish in under an hour. How often can you say that about a recipe with yeast as an ingredient? And they freeze beautifully.
I didn't have any dried cranberries, so used some dried cherries I had left over. I'm not going to label these bread sticks a "quick bread", but honestly, some quick breads take longer to make than these gems.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread Sticks

Adapted from Lori at Recipe Girl

Yield: About 32 bread sticks 
Note: I halved this recipe and got 10. I thought they were the perfect size.

3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (.25-ounce) instant dry or active dry yeast
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups bread flour (I used regular flour and they turned out beautifully; see * below)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted salted butter
Kosher salt

* Re: bread flour vs all purpose: 
Bread flour has more protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development. Some recipes call for it when an especially chewy and elastic crumb is desired.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water/yeast, pumpkin and honey. Mix to combine. Insert the dough hook and gradually add in 3 cups of the flour (scrape sides, as needed). Add the cranberries. Sprinkle in the remaining 1 cup of flour, and let the dough hook do the kneading for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. (Barbara's note: knead a few minutes by hand, something I always like to do; there's just something about getting your hands in the dough to get a feel for the elasticity, don't you agree?)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Break off small pieces of the dough (I used golf ball size; Lori got more bread sticks, so you could use less dough for more bread sticks.) and roll into thin bread stick "logs" - 6 to 8-inches long. Place them on the baking sheet. You should end up with about 32 bread sticks. Cover the baking sheets with a clean dishtowel and place them in a warm place to rise. Let rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until the bread sticks have puffed up a little bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. After rising, brush each bread stick with butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve. Or wrap in foil to store in the freezer- to be served later. Let thaw at room temperature, then bake at 300 degrees F. for 5 minutes to warm up.


Salsa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Crema

There's nothing not to like about this great supper! It's easy, it's fast and it's healthy. First you have a yummy sweet potato, topped with your favorite corn and black bean salsa (homemade or store-bought), topped with melted cheese, served with a great avocado crema. The crema is rich, cool and creamy (I made mine with a hand mixer because I wanted a little texture), making a nice foil for the hot and somewhat spicy potato. A winner of a supper for your family. 

Salsa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Crema

From Averie Cooks

(This recipe is for one potato, serving two people. There was plenty of crema for more)

Sweet Potato and Filling
1 medium/large sweet potato
heaping 1/2 cup corn and black bean salsa ( a nice chunky one)
salt and pepper, optional and to taste
1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 

Avocado Crema
1 medium ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice 
pinch salt, to taste
water, if necessary
cilantro, optional for garnishing

Pierce potato with fork a few times before cooking in microwave on high power for about 7 minutes (medium) to 10 minutes (large). (It took mine 15 minutes) Cook until fork tender and done. 
Preheat oven to broiler setting.
Remove potato from microwave and slice in half lengthwise on a cutting board.
Hollow out a center column of each half with a spoon. Don't actually remove any flesh, but pile/push it around the edges of the potato so the center is a bit shallower to make room for the filling.
Place the halves on a non-stick baking sheet.
Evenly divide the corn and bean salsa between each potato half.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Top each potato half with cheese.
Broil for about 3 minutes, or just until cheese begins to melt and is bubbly. Remove from oven and set aside to cool momentarily. While potatoes cool, make the avocado crema.

Avocado Crema

In a food processor or blender (I used a hand mixer because I wanted the crema to have some texture), combine most of the avocado (reserving a small portion of chunks or slices for garnishing if you want), sour cream, lime juice, salt to taste, and blend until smooth and creamy. If mixture is thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle avocado creama over potato.
Garnish with reserved avocado and optional cilantro. Potatoes are best enjoyed warm and fresh. 


Apple Cinnamon Palmiers

Oh my, yes! Crunchy, sticky, cinnamony and appley. Are these perfect for tea or what? And so easy to make. Yummy on my tummy. I love making palmiers...sweet AND savory. Let me count the ways......

Apple Cinnamon Palmiers
Found on Our Chocolate Shavings


2 sheets of square puff pastry
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 apple


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup of sugar mixture onto your working area. Place one sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar. Add another 1/4 cup of the mixture on top and gently press down with the palm of your hand. (I used a rolling pin)

Peel and grate the apple. Tightly press onto a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle half of the grated apple onto the puff pastry. Lightly press them down with the palm of your hand. Fold 2 sides of the square puff pastry into the middle of the puff pastry surface. Fold the sides towards the middle again to create double-layered folds. Then, fold one of the sides onto the other (as if you were closing a book). Reserve and do the same with the second puff pastry sheet. 

Slice the puff pastry into 3/8 inch slices and place cut side up on a parchment-line baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, turn the palmiers over, and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until perfectly golden. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Don't know how to fold palmiers? Take a look HERE.


Nutmeg Maple Cream Tart

If the New York Times and Smitten Kitchen said so, this tart just had to be good! Deb adapted the Times recipe and I slightly adapted hers. It's a lovely custard tart with strong maple overtones and a touch of nutmeg. Perfect for fall, easy to make and the only problem is keeping your fork out of it before it cools!

Nutmeg Maple Cream Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust or tart shell (I used my tart crust recipe, see below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line pie refrigerated pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until beginning to set. Remove foil with weights and bake 15 to 18 minutes longer or until golden. If shell puffs during baking, press it down with back of spoon. Cool on wire rack. Lower temperature to 300 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Whisk together egg yolks and egg in a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.

Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Tart Crust
1 egg yolk
2 Tbs. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
  1/4-inch cubes

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
Mix the yolk, water and vanilla together and add to the dough. Pulse until it comes together. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Barbara's note: Check out this recipe on my other blog for some quick and easy maple tarts; click HERE.



Yes, That's right. This really is a post about porridge. Not just any porridge, this one is special....it's not what you've been making for years. (Which will change after you read this, I promise.)
I've always used McKann's steel cut oats for oatmeal. Boil water, add oats, some salt and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Then top with fruit or whatever everyone wants. Simple, right?
Well so I thought until I read Luisa's post on The Wednesday Chef. She made April Bloomfield's Porridge...you know, April from A Girl and Her Pig. How could I resist? April was one of our 50 Women Game Changers (I made her Banoffee Pie for the series) and I've been to her restaurant in NYC, The Spotted Pig. Very funky decor with all manner of pigs scattered everywhere. But the food, my dears, the food! Have you eaten there? The menu is so creative and interesting and everything we ordered was delicious.

So I set out to discover why Luisa was raving about April's porridge. Here's the trick: she uses both steel cut oats and regular oats. Brilliant idea as the regular oats melt into the body of the porridge and the steel cut oats retain texture. Quite the perfect combination. I've never used a milk/water combo for oatmeal either. (Can't imagine why as I always did when making Cream of Wheat for the kids.)

Yes, Luisa was right....this porridge is amazing and what better way to start out your day?

April Bloomfield's Porridge
From A Girl and Her Pig via Luisa from The Wednesday Chef

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon or other flaky sea salt; if using fine salt, use less – start at 3/4 teaspoon and adjust as needed Note: I used even less.
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup rolled (not quick-cooking) oats
Toppings (additional milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, flax seed or fresh fruit)

Bring milk, water and salt to a simmer in a medium pot over high heat, don't let it boil over. When the mixture starts to simmer, add both oats, stir to combine and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the oats at a steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary and stirring occasionally. At 20 minutes, the steel-cut oats will be just cooked and the rolled oats will have melted into the porridge.

Taste for salt, add more if needed, then divide into two bowls and add the toppings to taste. 


Fontina, Pear and Caramelized Onion Galette

Savory galettes and tarts are a favorite of mine. I make them frequently and there's nothing better than a little slice with with a glass of wine. Or for lunch. Or a lovely first course at a dinner party. This one was, along with a salad, served as our dinner.
The cornmeal in the rustic, buttery crust added just the right texture in your mouth alongside the lovely melted fontina (love that cheese!) and fresh herbs. The sweetness of the pears and
 caramelized onions balanced it all off beautifully. I think your family will really enjoy this recipe, kids included, especially if they have adventuresome palates! (Well, galettes sort of look like pizza, right?)

Fontina, Pear and Caramelized Onion Galette
By Ali from Alexandra’s Kitchen

(Recipe makes two galettes)

For Cornmeal Dough:
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup medium or fine grind yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup ice-cold water

For Caramelized Onions:

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups onion slices (about 3 to 4 small to medium onions)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

For Galettes:

2 cups (8 ounces) Fontina Cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly cracked
2 small rounds cornmeal galette dough
1 cup caramelized onions
2 pears, thinly sliced

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon milk or cream


For Cornmeal Dough:
Cut butter into small cubes and place in freezer for approximately 5 minutes.
In food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt until blended. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of small peas. Add ice water. Pulse at 1-second intervals until dough starts to form, about 10 seconds total. 
Scoop half of dough onto center of sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap, forming dough into ball and pressing into disk: chill. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.

For Caramelized Onions:

Heat butter over medium heat in large sauté pan. Add onions with pinch of salt. Cook, covered, 15 minutes.
Remove cover, stir and increase heat slightly. Continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to reduce sticking. Cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring more frequently until onions have turned a nice deep brown.
Add vinegar, turn off heat and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon or spatula to remove any browned bits. Remove pan from heat and transfer onions to large bowl to cool.

For Galettes:

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In small bowl, combine Fontina, salt, thyme, rosemary and pepper. Set aside.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. On lightly floured work surface, roll each dough round into 8- to 10-inch circle. Use flour as needed to prevent sticking and pat dough together if it crumbles. Fold each round into quarters and transfer to prepared baking pan.
Unfold one galette round and top with layer of caramelized onions, leaving 2-inch border exposed. Cover onions with layer of pears. Top with layer of herb-Fontina mixture. Lift edges of dough and fold them inward, pleating as you go, to form folded-over border, pinching together any tears. Brush egg-yolk mixture over exposed crust. Repeat assembly with remaining galette. Chill assembled galettes 15 minutes.

Bake until crust has browned and Fontina has melted, 35 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes on the parchment, then slide carefully onto a serving platter.


Ina First Fridays: Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio

While having lunch the other day, I was watching Ina Garten's TV show (no doubt a repeat) and she made this pasta dish. I don't eat a lot of pasta, but looking down at my boring salad and then looking up at this pasta dish coming out of the oven, what do you think I decided? I had to make it. That day and for dinner. 
After driving over to Whole Foods for the pasta, I was ready to go. This is a snap to make, doesn't take much time to put together and only 10 minutes in a really hot oven to finish. Ina was right. Again. This dish was fantastic. All those cheeses, the slight bitterness of the radicchio, those garlicky shiitake mushrooms and the crisp pasta on top! Best pasta dinner in ages. And....how easy was that?

Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio

Barefoot Contessa, International Pasta; recipe by Johanne Killeen, Al Forno Restaurant


6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (2 medium heads) finely shredded radicchio
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely shredded fontina (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (3 ounces)
2 teaspoons ricotta
6 leaves fresh sage, chopped (see note)
1 pound imported conchiglie rigate (pasta shells)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick. Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet; add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mushrooms, radicchio, cream, cheeses, sage, and remaining salt.

Parboil the pasta shells for 4 minutes; drain and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Toss to combine.

Divide the pasta mixture among 6 to 8 individual, shallow, ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2 to 2 cup capacity). Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Ina's notes: In the absence of fresh sage, do not substitute dried. As a substitute, choose one of the following: 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon OR 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves OR 8 leaves fresh rosemary OR 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed.
Makes about 5-6 servings.



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