I made mini brown sugar pumpkin cheesecakes with oreo crust this past Thanksgiving as one dessert per my uncle’s request for something with pumpkin. And my mom wanted something fruity, so I figured it would be great to take advantage of pears being in season. However, I don’t like it when cooked pears get mushy. I came across this recipe on Food & Wine magazine, and thought the addition of the apple and streusel would keep the galette’s texture interesting.
I was also super excited to roll out the dough on our gorgeous new countertop! Thanks Johnny and the Expert Hardwood Flooring team! These small joys are what life is all about. At our old apartment, Kev and I didn’t have a lot of kitchen counter space and what little we had was right next to the sink and really the only prep space we had.
On the New Countertop!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 firm Bartlett pears, halved, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
- MAKE THE CRUST In a food processor, pulse the 2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle the water on top and pulse until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, 1 hour.
Crumbly with Pea Size Clumps of Butter
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE STREUSEL Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, then chop.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the brown sugar and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers, pinch it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the walnuts and pinch the streusel into clumps. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
- MAKE THE FILLING Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the pears, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, the salt and lemon juice. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 19-by-13-inch oval. Ease the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Mound the filling in the center of the oval, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the fruit and fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling.
Ready for the Oven
- Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Bake the galette for 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the streusel and crust are golden brown. Let the galette cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, before serving.
Apple-and-Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel
This was a big hit at Thanksgiving. The tart crispness of the apple really complimented the sweet pear. My aunt hosted this year, so I had to let it cool and bring it over at room temp, but I would definitely recommend serving it a little warm with ice cream if you make it at home!
As with every IMAX Thanksgiving potluck, I test out my annual holiday dessert that I make a number of times across the various social gatherings. This year, I picked a not-so-seasonal dessert and went with the chocolate and earl grey combination. I had seen a number of different recipes pairing those two flavors together, but the Real Simple one caught my eye.
The texture of the bundt cake is great. You get a nice crust that’s reminiscent of a brownie, though no where near as thick, and the inside is moist. I’ve made this with full-fat sour cream subbed for the yogurt, used nonfat greek yogurt, and whole fat regular. There wasn’t a big difference in flavor with any of those versions.
Chopped Baking Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea
Here’s the recipe!
- 6 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Heat oven to 350° F. Coat an 8-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray.
- Brew the tea in the water 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags or strain the leaves and set the brewed tea aside.
- Using a mixer, beat the butter, eggs, and granulated sugar until fluffy. Blend in the chocolate.
Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate
- Beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, yogurt, and brewed tea. [NOTE: If you use a stand mixer to blend the ingredients in this step, it will make a huge mess even if you start it on low. I’ve made this four times to date, and it’s happened every single time. I would recommend whisking everything in until everything is just combined.]
- Pour into pan. The batter will be a little runny.
Batter is lighter than it finishes
- Bake 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Turn out of pan and cool.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake
I ended up making 5 of these between Thanksgiving and Christmas between all of the family dinners and potlucks. I would say the only pain is cleaning the crevices of the bundt pan that ALWAYS have crumbs stuck to them!
We’re approaching the halfway mark to Thanksgiving, so why not do a little #TBT (Throw Back Thanksgiving!) post? Kevin and I hosted this past Thanksgiving for my mom’s side of the family, and in my search for new belt-loosening inspiration, I came across this indulgent recipe for Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese on Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve always been a sucker for savory dishes with a hint of sweetness, but I also love naughty dishes that pretend to be healthy by adding a vegetable. Ladies and gents, don’t make this if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to mac and cheese. It’s mac and cheese. It’s not supposed to be good for you. That being said, this recipe is DELICIOUS and just as decadent as any good mac and cheese recipe.
Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese
Here is the recipe as adapted from Brown Eyed Baker:
- 12 slices thick-cut peppered bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1/2 butternut squash, finely diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 8 T unsalted butter, divided
- 4 T all-purpose flour
- 3 C whole milk
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
- 16 ounces cavatappi pasta (or shaped pasta of your choice)
- 1 C breadcrumbs (I like panko)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover.
- In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy, stainless skillet), fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- Adjust the heat to medium-low and add the butternut squash and onion to the bacon grease. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are browned and cooked through. Once cooked, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up the mixture (it doesn’t have to be completely smooth – leave some chunks in for texture).
Butternut Squash, Onions Cooking in Bacon Grease
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente pasta (if your box doesn’t specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for – it shouldn’t be cooked the whole way through). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
- Once the sauce comes to a simmer, stir in 6 ounces each of the Gruyere and cheddar cheeses, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked, drained pasta, bacon and butternut squash mixture to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs and Remaining Cheese
- Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
This is definitely one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, even better than Alton Brown’s.
2015 Thanksgiving Spread
Here was the menu line-up with links to recipes where applicable:
- Crudité and Trader Joe’s hummus
- Truffle mushroom crostini (I guessed at this, and it turned out well but I’ll have to try and retrace my steps in order to post a recipe for that later)
- My Favorite Simple Kale Salad
- Ham from Bristol Farms (courtesy of my mom)
- Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing – this time using half sweet Italian and half spicy Italian chicken sausage instead of the chicken apple. I actually think I like it better that way!
- Brussels Sprouts and Bacon (tripled that recipe, without the kimchee).
- This butternut squash and bacon mac and cheese
- Zucchini casserole (courtesy of my aunt)
- Mashed potatoes (courtesy of Kevin)
Proud to finally share my first double-crust pie with a really great apple filling! I made my first attempt was last Thanksgiving (photos are from that time), and I made it again for Christmas as adapted in the recipe below. I found the filling recipe in the New York Times. I thought there was a bit too much apple cider vinegar the first time I made this, so I’d recommend cutting it down from 1 tablespoon to 2 teaspoons. Here’s the recipe as adapted:
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 2 ½ pounds apples, peeled and cored, then cut into wedges (5 large honeycrisps will do it)
- ¼ t ground allspice
- ½ t ground cinnamon
- ¼ t kosher salt
- ¾ C plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 T all-purpose flour
- 2 t cornstarch
- 2 t apple cider vinegar
- 1 recipe All-Butter No-Fail Flaky Pie Crust
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Melt butter in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat and add apples to the pan. Stir to coat fruit with butter and cook, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk together the spices, salt and 3/4 cup sugar, and sprinkle this over the pan, stirring to combine. Lower heat and cook until apples have started to soften, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk flour and cornstarch together while the apples are cooking.
- Sprinkle flour mixture little by little over the apples while stirring to prevent lumps, cooking another 3 to 5 minutes. I hate having lumps, so I used a mesh colander to sift it over the filling. Remove pan from heat, add cider vinegar, stir and scrape fruit mixture into a bowl and allow to cool completely. NOTE: The fruit mixture will cool faster if spread out on a rimmed baking sheet – line with parchment paper for easier clean up.
- Place a large baking sheet on the middle rack of oven and preheat to 425 degrees Farenheit. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 12″ in diameter. Fit this crust into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming it to leave a 1/2-inch overhang. Place this plate, with the dough, in the freezer.
Rollin’ in the Dough
- Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 10 or 11 inches in diameter.
- Remove pie crust from freezer and put the cooled pie filling into it. Cover with remaining dough. Press the edges together, trim the excess, then crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut three or four steam vents in the top of the crust. Lightly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
- Place pie in oven and bake on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375. Continue to cook until the interior is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes more. Remove and allow to cool on a kitchen rack, about two hours.
Not too Shabby
Real Simple Pastry Mat
Rollin’ in the Dough
Make the Filling
Not too Shabby
When I turned 30, IMAX surprised me with a cake and a batch of pumpkin pie bars from my favorite bakery in LA (arguably in the world). I was obsessed with having these again, and scoured the internet for about a year to find a recipe that would help me replicate them. I finally came across one that sounded and looked like the bars from Cookie Casa.
Pumpkin Pie Crumble Bar
The annual IMAX Thanksgiving potluck is my time to do a test run of one of the dishes I’ll make the following week on Turkey Day. This recipe was the perfect opportunity to try the bars out. I found the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker, but I wasn’t happy with the outcome. The topping looked and tasted like crumbs instead of a chunky crumble. Remembering what gave crumbles that great semi-chunky clumpy texture from the crumble I made a few years ago, I decided to start playing with this recipe. I made this three more times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, tweaking each time and finally found something I was really happy with. I bumped up the pumpkin content to a full can of puree to help bulk up the filling, as I thought the original was a bit crust- and crumble-heavy. I also cut an extra 1/4 cup butter into the oatmeal crumb mixture with a pastry blender for texture, and I pared down the spice content a wee bit.
I brought these to the Annual Sho-Yu Holiday Party last night, finally happy with the outcome. I am happy to share the recipe as I have edited it, after making this a total of 6 times since November!
For the Oatmeal Crumb:
- 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 C quick oats
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 C light brown sugar
- 3/4 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/4 C unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 1/4 C granulated sugar
- 1/4 C light brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch ginger
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 can pureed pumpkin
- 1/3 C evaporated milk
- Make the Oatmeal Crumble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides; set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt to combine. Add both the granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until no clumps remain. Add 3/4 cup melted butter and vanilla extract, then stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Press two cups of the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.
Press Crust with Bottom of Measuring Cup
- Make the Pumpkin Pie Filling: Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Finally, whisk in the pumpkin, and then the evaporated milk until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.
- When the crust has finished baking, pour the pumpkin pie filling over the bottom crust and return it to the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes.
- While the filling is baking, cut 1/4 cup butter with a pastry blender into the remainder of the dry mixture until the butter is about pea size, trying to disperse throughout the remainder of the dry mixture. Set aside. This extra step will really give the topping that “crumble” texture, versus just being lots of crumbs on top.
Cut Extra Butter for Crumble Topping
- Remove the dish from the oven, pinch the oatmeal crumble mixture into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin pie filling. Return the baking dish to the oven, placing it on the upper-middle rack, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden on top and the center only jiggles slightly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 to 2 hours. Then, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Are these as good as Cookie Casa’s? They’re not, but they are still pretty darned close!
Crumble and Crust Mixture
Press Crust with Bottom of Measuring Cup
Cut Extra Butter for Crumble Topping
Ready for the Sho-Yu Holiday Party!
Pumpkin Pie Crumble Bar