Molasses Cornbread Muffins

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These small cornbreads add spice and molasses for a truly fall flavor.

Ingredients:

+ 1-1/4 cups flour

+ 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

+2 tsp. ground cinnamon

+ 1/2 tsp salt

+ 1/4 tsp. baking soda

+ 1-1/4 cups yellow cornmeal

+ 1/4 cup sugar

+ 6 Tbs. dark brown sugar

+ 2 tsp. vanilla extract

+ 1-1/4 cups milk

+1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

+ 2 eggs

+ 1-1/4 sticks butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a standard 12 cup muffin tin, set aside.
  2. in a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cornmeal. In another bowl mix together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and molasses.
  3. With a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the melted butter and both sugars. Add the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk mixture and combine on medium speed.
  4. Using a 1/4 cup, scoop the batter into the prepared pans (adding a little more with a spoon) Bake for 15 minutes,until muffins pull away from the sides.
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Indian Pudding with Maple Ice Cream

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I first encountered Indian pudding in Massachusetts, bets are if you aren’t from the Northeast you might not have ever had (or heard) of this particular dessert. Utilizing local flavors like molasses and cornmeal, this pudding is welcome change at the Thanksgiving table. Pair this dessert with your favorite ice cream, or with the maple ice cream recipe below. The combination of warm pudding and creamy ice cream can’t be beat.

Ice cream ingredients:

(recipe provided by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

+ 2 cups whole milk

+ 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp cornstarch

+ 3 Tbs cream cheese , room temperature

+ 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

+ 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 

+ 2 Tbs light corn syrup

+ 1 1/2 cups maple syrup

Directions:

Prep: Mix 2 Tbs. of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl.

          Mix cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl,

          Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a pourable measuring cup.

          Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.

  1. Bring the maple syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan, over a medium heat. Continue to boil for about 8 minutes until it has darkened and reduced. Remove from the heat, while stirring constantly add the cream/corn syrup mixture. Then add the remaining milk. Place back on the heat, until a boil. Remove from heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Place back on the heat, cooking the mixture until slightly thickened, mixing with a heatproof spatula. Remove from the heat.
  2. Gradually mix the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese/salt mixture until it is smooth. Pour the mixture into a gallon zip-lock bag, seal, and place in the ice bath. Leave there until cold, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the ice cream base into a frozen canister of your ice cream machine, and spin until thick and creamy. (20-35 minutes) Pack into a storage container and place in freezer for at least 4 hours.

Indian Pudding ingredients:

+ 4 cups half-and-half

+ 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses

+ 4 Tbs. unsalted butter

+ 1 tsp. ground ginger

+ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

+ 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

+ 1 Tbs. grated orange peel

+1 teaspoon salt

+1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275°. In a medium saucepan combine the half-and-half, molasses, butter, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and add the cornmeal, whisking until the batter is smooth.
  2. Transfer to a medium sized baking dish, baking for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, until edges are firm but the center is still a little shaky. Let cool slightly and serve warm with maple ice cream and candied nuts You could also add some homemade whipped cream, flavored with orange extract or rum.

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Baking 101: Candied Nuts

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Use these guys for a simple yet elegant decoration to cupcakes or cakes, for added crunch to your favorite ice cream, or just for plain snacking.

What you’ll need:

+ A medium saucepan

+ Rubber spatula

+ Rimmed baking sheet

+ Parchment or wax paper

Ingredients:

+ 3/4 granulated sugar

+ 1 cup chopped or whole nuts

+ 3 Tbs water

+ 1/2 tsp coarse salt

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How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. On a rimmed backing sheet, spread the nuts in an even layer and place in the oven, after about 5 minutes rearrange the nuts using a spatula, this allows for even roasting. Leave in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. (The trick here is when the nuts start to get fragrant, they’re done.) Remove from the oven.
  2. In a medium saucepan, on a medium-high heat, mix the sugar with the water, swirling the pan to combine. When the mixture starts bubble and turns a light amber, add the roasted nuts and coarse salt. Using the spatula, coat the nuts in the sugar mixture and remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the coated nuts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and separate the nuts using a fork.

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Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

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"Here we are in the middle of a crisis and there’s no cheesecake!" Golden Girls quote or something the Pilgrims said on their voyage? I will let you decide. This is an easy take on a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, which can easily be made ahead before the busy day.

Ingredients for the following:

Crust:

+ 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

+ 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

+ 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Filling:

+ 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature

+ 1 cup granulated sugar

+ 1/4 cup brown sugar

+ 1 can pure pumpkin puree

+ 2 large eggs

+ 2/3 cup evaporated milk

+ 2 Tbs cornstarch

+ 1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

+ 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

+ 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Topping:

+ 1 can of dulce de leche (optional)

+ 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream, room temperature

+ 1/3 cup granulated sugar

+ 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a small bowl. Press a bit of the crust mixture to the bottom of each paper liner. Bake for 6-8 minutes until just set. Set aside to cool.
  2. With a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. beat until fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, evaporated milk, and pumpkin puree. Mix in cinnamon, cornstarch, ginger and nutmeg. Using a 1/4 cup, scoop filling into the prepared tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the sour cream, granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract. With the cheesecakes still warm, spread a layer of dulce de leche on top of the cheesecakes and a layer of the sour cream mixture, pop back in the oven for 5 minutes, remove and let cool on wire racks. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

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Brown Sugar Pear Poundcakes

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Pears are the unsung hero of fall. Subtlety sweet, they make a great addition to muffins, tarts or simple cakes. Here Anjou pears are chopped up and added to a brown sugar pound cake. Since I have a terrible sweet tooth, I made a simple cream cheese glaze and added toasted chopped walnuts for crunch, although you could just sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar with cloves for a fall touch.

Ingredients:

+ 4 pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped

+ 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

+ 3 cups flour

+ 2 teaspoons baking powder

+ 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

+ 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

+ 1/2 teaspoon salt

+ 2 1/4 cups light-brown sugar

+ 5 large eggs

+ 3/4 cup buttermilk

+ 1/2 cup toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Glaze:

+ 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

+ 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

+ 2 tablespoon lemon juice

+ 6 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter two loaf pans, set aside. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and salt., add the chopped pears.
  2. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on a medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Add a bit of the flour mixture, then some buttermilk. Repeat, ending with the flour. Beat until combined. Divide the batter among the two pans, evening the tops with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, until tops are lightly browned and springs to the touch. Let cool on wire racks. Meanwhile make the glaze.
  5. With the stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar, add the lemon juice. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the milk, a tablespoon at a time. Beat well.
  6. When cakes are completely cooled, release them from the pans. (You might have to let them cool a bit more) Pour the glaze over the cakes and sprinkle with walnuts. Let set and enjoy.

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I’ve learned not to stress myself out when it comes to bringing dessert to a party. This recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, something you can make ahead and with a few upgrades makes for a great Halloween treat.

Spiderweb Mini Oreo Cheesecakes with Ganache

Follow this recipe:

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes (and let cool) 

Use this method for making the Chocolate Ganache

(Increase the chocolate to 8 ounces and the cream to 1 cup, omit vanilla extract.) 

Top each cheesecake with ganache, let cool in the fridge until set.

Melt 1 bag of white chocolate chips (12 ounces) in a double broiler with 2 teaspoons of canola oil. When fully melted, pour into a squeeze bottle. Pipe spiderwebs on top (it helped me to have a visual aid.) Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Enjoy!

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Caramelized Apple Rice Pudding

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Rice pudding is the ultimate comfort food. Made in one pot with simple ingredients, only your imagination can limit the endless flavor combinations. With a chill now in the air and since I had some apples leftover from my visit to the greenmaket, I thought they’d make a great addition to rice pudding. This would be a delightful dessert after a supper with friends or something to cook up as sweet to have on standby in the fridge…..plus you can have it for breakfast. (I mean it has apples.)

Ingredients:

Pudding:

+ 3 - 1/2 cups whole milk

+ 1/3 cup light brown sugar

+ 1/2 cup medium or short grain rice

+ 1/4 teaspoon salt

+ 1/2  tsp. ground ginger

+ 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

+ 1 cinnamon stick

Caramelized Apples:

+ 3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped 

+ 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan spread sugar in an even layer. Cook over medium-high heat, no stirring needed, until the edges start to turn golden, about 3-5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar until its translucent and golden. Add the chopped apples and stir to coat them. Cook, covered for 9-12 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the apples until they are broken down but still have some texture. Continue cooking, uncovered for about 5 minutes. Let cool. image
  2. In a medium heavy-bottom pot, combine milk, sugar, rice and salt. Stir in cinnamon stick, ground ginger, and ground cloves. Bring mixture to a slight boil, and cook over medium-low heat to a low simmer, stirring 30-40 minutes. Take the pot off the burner, mix in the brown sugar. Stir on a low heat until just combined. Let cool.
  3. Take about half of the apple mixture and add it to the rice pudding. Stir together until combined.
  4. You can serve the pudding at room temperature or chilled from the fridge. I added a dollop of homemade whipped cream, a small serving of the reserved caramelized apples, and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg.                                                                          image
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