Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving - Desserts (Maple Pecan Bars, Apple Cake, and Pumpkin Pie)

Ohhhh hey, remember me? You might not. It's been awhile. I almost forgot how to use this website thingy. Well, I'm back from the Great New Jersey Thanksgiving Adventure, and I'm back in one piece. The meal was a success. At least, I'm pretty sure it was. I didn't burn the house down, make anyone sick, injure myself, or wreak any other havoc. And I think I managed to make some pretty tasty dishes.

So, why not start with dessert? Going into the week, I was definitely planning on making a pumpkin pie. I was on the fence about whether I should do an apple cake or pecan bars. And in the end I decided to do both. It was kind of a gametime decision, I had enough time on Wednesday night to crank out one more thing, so maple pecan bars it was. It's kind of lame to write posts about Thanksgiving food the week after Thanksgiving, because what good does that do anybody? But a lot of these dishes are good for any holiday or occasion. Pumpkin pie, maybe not so much, but apple cake and maple pecan bars are good anytime. So let's start with the pecans.

Ever since I had that maple spice cupcake...oh no! I just realized I never posted a picture. Anyway, I had a delicious cupcake from Sprinkles that was a spice cake with maple icing, and I just couldn't stop thinking about that wonderful maple flavor. I figured - why not do a pecan dessert with maple instead of corn syrup? I found this recipe on Epicurious, courtesy of Bon Appetit.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

For filling:
Combine first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Boil filling 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla, then nuts.
Pour hot filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Cut into 30 bars.

I didn't change anything except that I used salted butter. And I would like to note that it says to cut into 30 bars. 30?! From a 9" x 9" pan? Yeah right. That's got to be a mistake. Or I just like large servings of dessert. But really, I got 9 nice sized squares out of the pan.

Next up, apple cake. I had one pie dish to work with that was already taken up by a pumpkin pie, and honestly I was worried about making an apple pie because I've had some (not my Aunt Linda's) that were soupy and watery on the inside. And I wanted to try this new recipe from Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook that my mom bought for me.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

I didn't change anything there either, except I didn't line the baking sheet with silicone or parchment. I don't really see the point since the cake is cooking in a springform pan. I also dusted the top with a little powdered sugar.

And last, the pumpkin pie. I wanted to make a really, really good pumpkin pie. When I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen for "silky smooth pumpkin pie", I'm not going to lie (ooo, a rhyme!) but I was a little intimidated. It's more work than your average pumpkin pie, especially since I wanted to make the crust from scratch, too. But I decided to take on the challenge. Straining the pumpkin mixture through a fine mesh sieve was a pain. But it was all worth it.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 cups of half and half instead of one cup each of cream and milk)
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to make 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang all around pie plate.

Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.

Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)

As you can see, the pie is adorned with dinosaurs, a dolphin, and a whale - courtesy of my nieces. Here's the pie crust recipe I used, it's better to read the original post with all her tips.

So there you have it. Thanksgiving desserts. More Thanksgiving recipes and photos to come throughout the week.

1 comment:

  1. wow, you were a busy girl! everything looked tasty. i especially love the thanksgiving sea creatures.