Pumpkin muffins – round 2

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After being slightly underwhelmed by my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, I went back to the drawing board.  I made some changes to the ingredient proportions and baking time:

  • 2½ C of flour (instead of 1½ C)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (didn’t have this last time)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed golden brown sugar (instead of dark brown sugar)
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 C of pure pumpkin (instead of 2 C)
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

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The batter was really dry. I was a bit worried they wouldn’t settle into the muffin cups but I think they look cute.

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These were baked 18 minutes (the original ones were in for 25). In retrospect 18 minutes was not quite enough, I’ll try 20 next time.

They were cooled in the pan 1 minute before being transferred to the rack.

Now this is the fun part. Use a cupcake corer (thank you M!) and stuff them with cream cheese frosting.

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Woah this thing works way better than a knife.

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And voila!

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Verdict: Hmm. I liked this much more than round 1. Boyfriend-Unit loved them. I think there is still room for improvement however, so next time I’ll up the pumpkin ratio a bit, and decrease the cardamom.

Playlist: Katatonia – Into the White

Patty’s pumpkin cream cheese muffins – round 1

I decided to reverse-engineer a pumpkin cream cheese muffin after the underwhelming experience of buying one from StarBucks. This is my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, and I made them the morning after seeing Nine Inch Nails live, which really has nothing to do with making muffins, but there you go. The muffins were edible, but have room for improvement. Trent Reznor, I am happy to report, does not require any improvement.

(Update Oct 19: round 2 is much better)

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I was surprised to see that the ingredient cost of this made this the most expensive thing I have ever baked, even steeper than the the Bailey’s chocolate cheesecake. Yikes.

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Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 14

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $79 if iced, $54 if plain

Cost per muffin: $5.64 if iced, $3.85 if plain

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • muffin tin + large liners

Muffin ingredients:

  • 1½ C flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 C of pure pumpkin
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 C icing sugar

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F / 176°C and put muffin liners into pan.

2. Combine in a bowl: flour and spices.

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3. In mixer; cream the eggs and sugar until smooth.

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4. Mix in canned pumpkin, vegetable oil, and vanilla bean pods. (Reserve the shell for something else).

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5. Gradually add flour mixture to wet, and don’t overbeat.

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6. Spoon into tray, and dust with turbinado sugar.

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7. Bake 25 min. (Checked at 20 and but still too springy.)

8. Cool in pan 5 min before transferring to rack.

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9. Make the icing by combining everything in one bowl. This is precise science, people.

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10. Use a knife to score a circle around the muffin tops and press the knife down, then lift up, and pry out the top. You will have a little muffin cone lid. Slice off the bottom part until you have a thin top remaining. Now stuff that bad boy with cream cheese and replace the top.

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Verdict: They were good, but the muffin texture really changed overnight, they seem overly moist today. I tried one without icing, and the pumpkin was a bit too strong. Then again cream cheese icing is also a very strong flavour, so… hard to say. I sent my friend home with one but forgot to ice it. Oops. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out, and I think for round 2 I’ll add a few more spices, and cut back on the pumpkin and see how that goes.

Playlist: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie

Pumpkin ice cream

The Starks are always right. Pumpkin-flavoured everything is coming.

Before you get started: Freeze your ice cream bowl for at least 15 hours.  After all the ingredients are combined, chill at least 1 hour before churning. This recipe is from the book that came with the attachment.

Time required: 3 hours (under 1 hour of actual work)

Yields: about 8 cups of ice cream

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $29.

Cost per scoop: maybe $1.80

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid mixer
  • ice cream maker attachment
  • mesh strainer

Ingredients:

  • 1½ C half and half (or light cream)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ C granulated white sugar
  • ½ TSP vanilla
  • ¾ TSP pumpkin pie spice
  • 1½ C heavy cream
  • 1½ C canned pumpkin

Instructions:

1. Scald the half and half in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot.

2. Combine yolks, sugar, and vanilla.

3. Use a strainer, and gradually temper in the hot half and half. Eww yuck skim.

4. Whisk in pumpkin pie spice.

5. Return mixture to stove, heat on medium-low for 10 min, stirring frequently. It’ll thicken. Don’t let it boil though.

6. Remove pot from heat.

7. Add canned pumpkin and heavy cream to mixing bowl. Strain in the hot mixture and whisk together.

Some desserts cannot be strained enough. I wholeheartedly endorse straining anything that involves scalded dairy.

Have no fear, it will all combine into this.

8. Chill at least one hour before churning into ice cream.

9. When you are ready to make ice cream, churn on speed 1 for 15-20 minutes until dasher clicks.

It stayed pretty fluid until about 15 minutes, that’s when I could see it was starting to firm up. Mine took 18 minutes before the first click.

I am pleased to report this time that I have figured out the frozen bowl completely, it stayed in place, and no thumbs were pinched.

10. Transfer to tupperware container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.

11. Let thaw a few minutes before scooping with beautiful blue KitchenAid scoop!!

Verdict: Boyfriend says it tastes just like pumpkin pie, it was so good. I can’t really tell what it tastes like because I have a cold and my taste buds have died. :[

Making ice cream is so great! What shall I do with all of the frozen egg whites I have left over?

Playlist: Halo OST

Pumpkin roll

“Pumpkiny goodness.”

(That’s what Boyfriend came up with when I said I didn’t know how to introduce this post.)

This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is available from Amazon.com.

Time required: 2.5 hours

Yields: 10 slices

Cost per slice: $4.43

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $44.34

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 15″ x 10″
  • sifter
  • wax paper and plastic wrap

Roll ingredients:

  • ¾ C flour
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ TSP ground cloves
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ⅔ C pure pumpkin

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 C icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190.5°C / 375°F.  Prepare baking pan by greasing it, then line with wax paper, then grease and flour the paper. Then place a large piece of wax paper down on a flat surface and dust it with icing sugar for later.

2. Combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

3. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until it thickens.  Add pumpkin.

4. Stir flour mixture into wet, adding about one third at a time.

5. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 13 min, when it’s done if you press lightly on the top with a spoon it should bounce back up.

6. Invert pan onto flat piece of wax paper.  Carefully peel the paper off the back (the bottom) of the cake.

7. Start at the end closest to you, and using the piece of wax paper on the bottom, gently roll the cake up onto itself, and place on wire rack to cool.

8. Meanwhile, make frosting by combining all ingredients in mixer and beat til smooth.

9. Unroll the cake, and remove the wax paper.  Spread frosting across it, and roll back up. Good luck with this part.

10. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

To prevent roll from spreading out, creatively ram it into a pan and put other items in the pan to hold it against the side.

11. Slice and serve!

Verdict:

“I don’t know how to classify this post.”

“How about delicious?”

“You liked it that much eh?”

This turned out really well. I’d recommend less frosting, the amount you get from the recipe is really too much, it was oozing everywhere.  A thin layer of frosting would be fine.

Playlist: enjoying the silence!

Patty’s pumpkin crème brûlée

Yes. I’m afraid it’s true. I have dangerous news: it is possible to make crème brûlée even more glorious.

I’ll be frank, I am tired of the trials and tribulations of fudge.  I needed a day of distance. Today is Thanksgiving, and Boyfriend and I are heading to Hobby Victim’s house for dinner. We each made a dessert. Mine was my favourite custard, tweaked with an inspiration from The Globe and Mail. I took my existing recipe, and tinkered with the proportions for the spices, and used real vanilla bean.

Toronto look out: something delicious this way comes!

Good to know before you start:

As I mentioned previously, custard should be made the day before because it needs to chill overnight. Before you serve it, remove from the fridge for 20 minutes, then caramelize the sugar, then chill for another 10 minutes before eating – we want cold custard and glassy sugar, not hot.

To achieve the silky texture that crème brûlée is famous for, it is imperative to use a mesh strainer. Double-straining into ramequins in a pain in the ass but so worth it.

You’re also going to need a fire-proof surface and kitchen torch. Don’t have a torch? Check out my guide about making your own. It’s way better than using the stove broiler. People, this is crème brûlée for Thanksgiving. Go big or go home.

Time required: 2 days (1 hr prep and bake, 1 hour cooling, chill overnight)

Yields: 12

Cost per portion: $3.00

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $36.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • mesh strainer
  • 12 ramequins
  • 2 baking pans: 9″ x 13″
  • 2 dish towels you don’t mind getting wet
  • fire-proof surface (ie: marble slab)
  • awesome kitchen torch

Ingredients:

  • 4 C heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 TSP ground nutmeg
  • 1 TSP ground ginger
  • 1 C canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ⅔ C granulated white sugar
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 10 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 12 TSP turbinado sugar (save until final stage, 1 TSP per portion)

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F / 162°C, using centre rack. Fill kettle with water and simmer for later. Fold dish towels so they sit nicely in the baking pans, and add ramequins, like so:

2. Pour heavy cream into a sauce pan, then split and scrape vanilla bean, and add to cream (including shell and pods). I do this at the very beginning and let the vanilla infuse into the cream while the cream comes up to room temp.

3. Add nutmeg and ginger to cream, then scald cream on medium heat. A skim will form, that’s normal. Once bubbles form at the edge, remove from heat.

4. Pour cream through strainer into a medium-size bowl.

5. Stir pumpkin into hot cream, let stand 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix sugar and salt.

7. Separate the yolks from the egg whites, gently whisk yolks into sugar mixture until just combined. (Save the whites for something else.)

Tip: try to crack the shell halfway between the top and the bottom of the shell. It’s easier to separate the yolks if you have two fairly equal sized shells to work with.

8. Use a ladle to temper the hot cream into the egg mixture; adding one third at a time, stirring it in. Don’t rush this, you don’t want scrambled eggs.

We are almost ready to divvy up the mixture into the ramequins.

9. Place a small strainer over a ramequin. Use ladle to reach the bottom of the bowl where all the vanilla bean pods have sunk, and ladle some mixture through the strainer. Do this for each one to ensure every portion gets a generous amount of vanilla pods.

After that, ladle out the mixture evenly, and strain each time.

Double-straining is very important because you’ll notice that on each pour, the strainer will get clogged with skim on every pour and you don’t want that gunk in your custard.

10. Place both pans in the oven and create a bain marie using the hot water from the kettle.

11. Bake 35 minutes until the edges of the custard are set. Test for doneness by shaking, the centre should wobble like Jell-o. If the whole surface shakes give it 3-5 more minutes. If nothing shakes it’s overdone.

12. Remove from oven and use an egg-flipper type spatula to lift the ramequins out of the dish, and place on wire rack to cool for one hour.

13. Cover each cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

14. Set ramequin on counter for 20 mintes to stand. Then remove plastic, and gently blot the surface with paper towel to remove condensation.

15. Sprinkle one teaspoon of turbinado sugar, cover the edges first and work towards the centre, then tilt and tap the ramequin to spread the sugar evenly.

16. Place ramequin on fire-proof surface and use your mad torching skillz.

The key to doing this properly is don’t let the flame get too close, and always keep it in motion. It takes around 3 minutes to melt the sugar properly into a nice glassy surface.

17. Chill for 10 minutes, then devour.

Verdict:

Patty: <setting up camera> “You can have first bite.”

Boyfriend: “Really?” <grabs spoon>

Patty: <taking photos and looking down> “Well?”

Boyfriend: “Oh my God!!”

Patty: “Is it good?”

Boyfriend: “No. It’s awful. You don’t want any.”

Patty: “Give me that spoon… ooohh, nice.”

Boyfriend: “This is amazing. I love the after taste, the nutmeg, it’s totally there. It kind of reminders me of egg nog, just a little. It’s so good.”

Playlist: David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

What dessert are you celebrating Thanksgiving with?

Pumpkin brownies

Autumn is the best time of year. Good things happen when the leaves turn; including my birthday, Halloween, and the ripening of that most wondrous squash: the pumpkin.

As soon as I saw this recipe on the Globe & Mail today I had to try it.

Good to know before you start: This recipe needs pure pumpkin, which is not pumpkin pie filling. Look for a label that says either “100% pure pumpkin” or “pumpkin purée”, and  it should not contain any herbs or spices.

Time required: 3 hours

Yields: about 30 pieces

Cost per slice: $1.83

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $55.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • parchment paper
  • digital scale
  • Oster blender
  • KitchenAid mixer

Ingredients:

BASE

  • 2 C flour
  • ½ C icing sugar
  • 1 C unsalted butter, (cold and cubed)
  • 1 TSP fine sea salt

FILLING

  • 3 eggs
  • 482 grams canned pumpkin (one 14 oz can)
  • ¾ C dark brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ C corn syrup
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • 2 TSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ TSP allspice
  • ½ TSP ground ginger
  • ¼ TSP fine sea salt

TOPPING

  • 2 TBSP butter, softened
  • 2 TBSP (28.6 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ C icing sugar
  • 1 TBSP milk

Instructions:

1.Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl mix: flour, icing sugar, butter and salt. I used a pastry blender, then switched to doing it by hand. The mixture should be crumbly, don’t form it into a ball.

3. Pat into pan.

4. Bake 25 min, and place on cooling rack.

5. Beat eggs in blender.

6. Weigh out the amount of pumpkin you need and add to egg. Don’t forget to adjust for the weight of the container.

7. Then add: brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and salt. Blend until well mixed, scrape sides, then blend a little longer.

Did you know brown sugar could float? Neither did I.

8. Pour liquid over base and bake for 40 min, then place on cooling rack.

9. Meanwhile make your frosting. Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and milk.

10. The recipe suggested drizzling the frosting over the pan, which I tried, but the amount of icing nearly covered the entire surface anyway so I spread it evenly instead.

11. Chill at least 2 hours, and cut into squares.

Verdict:

In this town, we call home, everyone hail to the pumpkin song!

These were really good. Boyfriend says, “They are awesome baby. I could eat the whole pan.”

Playlist: The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack

Patty’s pumpkin cheesecake bites

This idea has been percolating in my brain for awhile. I like pumpkins. I like cheesecake. Could they combine into something cool like Voltron? Turns out yes, yes they can.

The pumpkin is a native squash of North America and harvested in autumn. Being Canadian and born in October, this pleases me greatly. How many other types of produce can be used as doorstops and in competitive sports? I’m dying to go pumpkin chucking now.

Good to know before you start:

  1. The proportions that I used yielded a cheesecake with a subtle flavour. If you like the bold taste of pumpkin and want that punch-out flavour you’ll need to increase the amount of pumpkin and spices used.
  2. Let the cream cheese sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: between 40-64 pieces

Cost per slice: $1.42

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $57.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric beaters
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside a 14.5″ x 10.5″ pan
  • tinfoil & plastic wrap
  • flour sifter (for the sugar)

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¾ C graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 TSP ginger

Filling ingredients:

  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • 1¼ C dark brown sugar
  • ½ TSP cinnamon
  • ⅛ TSP cloves
  • ⅛ TSP pumpkin spice
  • ⅛ TSP allspice
  • ⅛ TSP nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 2 TBSP powdered cornstarch
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • ½ TSP vanilla bean paste
  • 5 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 C pumpkin filling

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla bean paste

Step 1 – using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

Step 2 – line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease the foil.

Step 3 – melt butter in sauce pan on Low.

Step 4 – measure out the graham cracker crumbs and mix in the ginger.

Step 5 – stir graham crumbs into butter and remove from heat.

Step 6 – press the crumbs into the prepared pan by hand and bake 10 min, then cool on rack.

Step 7 – in a medium bowl, combine: brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin spice, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cornstarch.

Stir them together, and since brown sugar tends to clump I ran it through a flour sifter.  (This picture is before sifting.)

Step 8 –  in mix master on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes. Use a  rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl constantly.

Step 9 – once the cream cheese is beaten up, stir in the sugar mixture, one third at a time.

Step 10 – beat in the eggs, one at a time, don’t over beat.

Step 11 – beat in pumpkin filling.

Step 12 – stir vanilla bean paste into heavy cream, the add to cream cheese.

Step 13  – pour into prepared pan, and place that pan inside the large baking pan. Using the hot water from the kettle, pour water into the outside pan so it rises about halfway up the side of the pan containing the cheesecake.

Bake in oven 50 minutes. When you remove cake from oven, turn oven off.

Step 14 – in a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste to create topping.

Pour this onto the cheesecake and carefully spread it with a soft spatula.

See the little black flecks? Those are the pods from the vanilla bean.

Step 15 – place this back into the oven for 5 minutes (oven is off).

Step 16 – cool on rack for 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 17 – in the morning use the tinfoil to lift the cake out of the pan. Use a hot knife and cut it into 8 or 9 strips, and then cut each strip into 5 or 6 pieces.

Step 18 – let pieces sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before consuming.

Verdict: I’m very happy with this. Initially I worried that the spices and pumpkin would be overpowering, so went easy on those amounts, but next time I’d increase it to 2 cups of pumpkin filling, and at least half a teaspoon for each spice. This particular cheesecake had a subtle yet distinctive pumpkin flavour. I garnished them with blueberries and fired up the espresso machine to make cinnamon dolce lattes for two. Boyfriend said, “Yum.”