Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake - Conventional

pumpkin swirl cheesecake

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
makes one 9-inch cheesecake
modified from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

for the crust:
2 C graham cracker crumbs, fine
.5 C pecans, chopped fine
1/8 t ground allspice
1/8 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground cloves
.25 t ground cinnamon
3 oz unsalted butter

for the filling:

1 C + 2 T granulated sugar
.25 C AP flour
.25 t ground allspice
.25 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground cinnamon

.75 C roasted pumpkin/winter squash puree

1.75 lb cream cheese
.5 C sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

9-inch springform pan
roasting pan

Bring all filling ingredients to room temperature. Dairy and eggs may be left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours to bring to temperature.

Preheat oven to 350ºF

make the crust:
In a medium bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, pecans and spices. Melt butter; pour over crumb mixture and stir to combing. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.

Once cooled, wrap sides and bottom of pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.

make the filling:
Combine spices in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour and a quarter of the spice mixture; set aside. Into the first bowl, stir the pumpkin/winter squash puree until incorporated.

In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Incorporate sour cream and vanilla. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating after each addition just to combine; DO NOT OVERMIX. Scrape down bowl and stir mixture with spatula just to homogenize.

Add 1.5 C filling to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine.

Pour about .5-inch of plain filling into the cooled crust. Place several large dollops of pumpkin filling around the pan; swirl with a butter knife. Pour remainder of plain filling over swirled filling, covering all visible pumpkin. Dollop remaining pumpkin filling evenly over plain; with a clean butterknife, swirl.

Place pan in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Pour or ladle enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

Bake in water bath 30 minutes at 350ºF. Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF and continue baking until the center remains jiggly but the edge of the cake is set and just beginning to turn golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Turn off oven and prop door open with a folded tea towel. Let cool in oven 1 hour before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving, to allow cake to set, flavor to mature.

pumpkin swirl cheesecake

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fudge Brownies - Conventional

Fudge Brownies
modified from MSL February 2004
makes one 8 x 8-inch pan

3 oz unsalted butter
6 oz chocolate (semi-sweet and bittersweet blend)
.25 C non-dutched cocoa powder
.5 C flour
.25 t baking powder
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla extract
.25 t salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Butter a 8 x 8-inch square glass baking dish. Line dish with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides; butter lining, excluding overhang.

Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside.

Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 1-2 minutes on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds. Once most of the chocolate is melted, remove from microwave and stir until all pieces are dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whip together sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until the mixture is pale and light in texture. Add chocolate mixture and beat just to combine. Sift in flour mixture and beat just to combine. Scrape down bowl and stir with a spatula to homogenize the mixture.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted halfway between side and center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Slice after fully cooled.

For optimal flavor, store brownies in an airtight container overnight before serving.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls - Vegan

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
modified from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
makes three 8-inch round or 8 x 8 square pans

2 C non-dairy milk
.5 C canola oil
.5 C granulated sugar
2.25 t active dry yeast
4.5 C AP flour, Divided
.5 heaping t baking powder
.5 scant t baking soda
1.5 t salt (K)

.5 C non-hydrogenated vegan margaine, melted
..5 C granulated sugar
.5 C light brown sugar
3 T cinnamon
1 T ground ginger, allspice and/or cloves

.25 C apricot preserves

1 lb (4 C) confectioner’s sugar
2 T non-hydrogenated vegan margarine, melted
2 t orange, lemon, vanilla or maple extract

Combine soymilk, oil, and 1 cup of sugar in a large pot. Scald the mixture and immediately remove from heat. Let cool for 50-60 minutes, until mixture is lukewarm and has fallen below 115ºF.

Stir in the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 4 C flour and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Stir in remaining .5 C flour, powder, soda and salt. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Punch down/fold the dough; knead gently until smooth and slightly elastic. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or damn tea towel and let rise 1 hour.*

Lightly oil three 8-inch round or 8 x 8-inch square pans; set aside.

On a well floured surface, roll the mass into a long, thin rectangle, about 20 inches long. The exact dimensions are not vital; the important thing is for the dough to be uniformly .25-inch thick. Brush rectangle with melted margarine, leaving a 1-inch border along one long edge. Sprinkle brushed area with sugar mixture and press lightly to adhere.

Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal. Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss or a sharp serrated blade to slice log into 1-inch pieces. Arrange in prepared pans. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and proof in refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours, up to 16).

Let pans of rolls stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake pans until the rolls are golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire racks until warm. Heat the apricot jam in a small bowl in the microwave until viscous but not bubbling; brush over top of warm cinnamon buns and let set before frosting. Frost and let cool further before serving.

*At this point, instead of resting on the counter, the dough can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding with rolling process.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Caramel Nut Bars - Conventional

caramel pecan bars

Caramel Pecan Bars
Modified from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook
Makes a 10 x 15-inch pan

8 oz unsalted butter
.75 C packed brown sugar
1/8 t salt (K)
1.75 C AP flour
.5 C raw oat bran

3 C sugar
.75 t cream of tartar
2 t salt (K)
.75 C water
.75 C heavy cream
1 lb pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Toast pecans in an ungreased sheet pan until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10-12 minutes; let cool completely before coarsely chopping. Set aside.

Butter 10 x 15-inch pan. Line with parchment, leaving 1-inch overhang on long sides.

Creaming method.

Drop into pan and cover with another piece of parchment. Use hands, lightly, back of large spoon or measuring cup or empty bottle to press dough evenly into pan, creating a .25-inch lip all around. Remove parchment and bake until light golden all over, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan on wire rack.

In a large saucepan, stir to combine sugar, cream of tartar, salt and water. Cook over high heat, without stirring or agitating, until sugar is completely dissolved. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 300ºF and is medium amber.

Reduce heat to low and immediately add cream; pour in a steady stream towards the edge of the pan, stirring constantly. The mixture will foam considerably. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, an additional 3-5 minutes, until foaming is reduced and the caramel begins to boil again. Remove from heat and let cool 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add prepared pecans to caramel and stir to coat. Pour into prepared crust, spread evenly to coat. Bake until caramel is set, 10-25 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Chill 10-15 minutes before removing from pan to cutting board for slicing.

Store refrigerated, serve at room temp.