Love and Confections: October 2010

October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Just in time for your fall festivities... and who doesn't love cheesecake?

After making pumpkin cake and pumpkin pies at my internship, I decided to tackle pumpkin cheesecake on my day off. I really do bake 6-7 days out of the week. The difference is that I love baking at home, because I can make a variety of small things; as opposed to work, where I need to make sure I have enough to feed about 3,000 people per day. That, in and of itself, is not easy, and gourmet pastries, cakes, etc., in mass quantities with limited time and space is difficult.



Baking with family has always been some of my best memories. Being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother was a requirement for most holidays. With my grandmother gone, and my mother a few hundred miles away, I still try to do holiday baking, even though they're not with me - but they're always on my mind. Fall was always the start of the big baking season for us. Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and then Christmas, meant that we would spend a lot of time together in the kitchen. Because of them, there is no longer a "want" to bake for the holidays; now its a "need." I need to keep the family traditions. I need to keep the memories alive. I need to keep them close, and if baking and being in the kitchen helps, then that's what I need to do.



The smell of pumpkin and spices filled my apartment and it truly felt like Autumn - all we need is the cooler weather here in Florida. Yesterday it was 91 degrees! In October! I have a friend in Colorado that already shared a picture of the "first snow of the season" - can you say jealous. We are supposed to get a cold front next week. The temperature might make it down to the 50s!




Even with the warmer weather, I have been getting in the Fall spirit. I unpacked some Halloween/Autumn decorations, bought myself some mini pumpkins, and indulged in a bag of candy corn. I also bought myself some flowers, just because I wanted some, and to accentuate my Fall decorations. Sunflowers are one of my favorite types of flowers, and they look great next to the bright orange mini pumpkins.

This recipe is simple and delicious. It is creamy, rich, and perfect for any holiday gathering you plan to have this season. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from verybestbaking.com

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients:
Crust
- 1 & 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1/3 cup unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated Sugar

Cheesecake
- 3-8 ounce packages Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- 2 large Eggs
- 1-15 ounce can 100% Pure Pumpkin
- 1-5 fluid ounce can Evaporated Milk
- 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
- 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin Cheesecake Directions:
Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine Graham Cracker Crumbs, Butter, and granulated Sugar in a medium bowl.
3. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. A little trick I use do is use the bottom and sides of a solid measuring cup to press down and around the sides - much easier and more precise than using your hands.
4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow it to brown)
5. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes

Cheesecake
1. Beat Cream Cheese, granulated Sugar, and Brown Sugar in a large mixing bowl, until fluffy.
2. Beat in Eggs, Pumpkin and Evaporated Milk.
3. Add Corn Starch and Pumpkin Pie Spice, and beat well.
4. Pour into crust
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes - the edge will be set, but the center will still move slightly
6. Cool on wire rack and then refrigerate overnight - keep springform pan sides on while cooling and refrigerating

You can serve this by itself, but it would also be great with some freshly whipped cream or homemade ice cream! Yum!

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

October 8, 2010

Apple Brown Betty! (FHC)

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It has definitely been a while since my last post. Job hunting, starting my internship, and a bunch of other things have stolen my time for baking and blogging. Hopefully I am able to bake and blog more regular, because I miss it so much - baking for fun, that is, not like what I do at work.

I decided what better way to start back up than with a Food Holiday Challenge - even though it is a few days late. The weather is getting cooler in parts of the country - we're still in the upper 80's right now, but hoping for cool weather to travel down - and the spirit of Fall is in the air. Pumpkin patches are popping up, Halloween costumes are in stores and chats about what families will be doing for Thanksgiving have started. If I lived up north, I would definitely go to an apple orchard and pick my own apples, like some of my friends have done in the past few weeks. I am extremely jealous that I am not able to pick them right off the tree, but I live in Florida - the "partly-cloudy" state - and can't travel much this Fall.



What better to bake with, at the start of Autumn, than apples? I enjoy apple pie, apple tarte tatin, etc., but have never had a Brown Betty and wanted to give it a try. It seemed simple enough. This recipe was not time consuming at all, and all the ingredients are extremely common in the kitchen.



Apple Brown Betty
adapted from Ellie Krieger

Apple Brown Betty Ingredients:
4 large Apples (about 2 pounds) peeled and diced - I used two Granny Smith & two Honeycrisp
1 cup Apple Cider
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
4 slices Honey Wheat Bread (crusts included), enough to make about 2 & 1/4 cups crumbs
1/4 cup chopped Pecans

Apple Brown Betty Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine the Apples, Apple Cider, 1 tablespoon of Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract, and 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, but still retain their shape, about 10 minues.
4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Butter until melted, remove saucepan from the heat, and transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie plate or ceramic dish.
5. Toast Bread slices and place in a food processor and process until crumbs are formed.
6. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon Butter in the microwave for 20 seconds.
7. Toss the Bread Crumbs with the melted Butter, Pecans, remaining 2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon.
8. Scatter the crumb mixture on top of the apples and bake for 30 minutes, until the topping is crisped and lightly browned.

Since this was my first time making a Brown Betty, I followed the recipe with the exception of using apples I already had - Ellie's recipe calls for Golden Delicious - and Pecans - because I ran out of Walnuts - also in Ellie's recipe. I added one more slice of bread in mine, because I used a 9 x 13 baking dish. Next time I will definitely make some more changes and adapt this recipe further. This is a healthier recipe, but I did miss some sugar, or I will use more brown sugar. I will probably experiment with other kinds of apples as well - the Honeycrisp were great, but I did not like the Granny Smith in this recipe, because there was not that much sugar to balance out the tartness. All in all, this recipe is a good starting point.

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!