Sweets

 

For none other than fond memories of holidays past I ordered several 16 ounce cans of French Puree des Chataignes, a sweetened chestnut puree that is more popular in Europe than the US. Very delicious spread on toast, waffles, French toast, mixed with ricotta for cannolis, with ice cream or gelato. and especially for a “Mont Blanc,”. A Mont Blanc is a celebratory French desert with a meringue base topped with swirls of piped chestnut puree crowned off with with a wintry blizzard of whipped cream peaks.

Feeling not quite that ambitious for a Christmas Eve supper I settled on making a more modest traditional French chestnut puree soufflé dessert that is topped with shaved chocolate. Very simple to prepare and happily it was received with great delight.

Following that thread the following week I decided to make Nigela Lawson’s Chocolate Chestnut Cake for a New Year supper that was met with oohs and ahhs, The consensus was that while Nigela’s chocolate chestnut cake was of course deliciously decadent, it was the simpler traditional chestnut soufflé’s beguiling flavor is what  won everyone’s favor. 

So while the chestnut puree soufflé is not exactly a visual feast on the plate it is it’s deliciousness that triumphs .

Chestnut Puree Soufflé Dessert

 

Sweetened chestnut puree is readily available on Amazon.

Chestnut Puree Soufflé dessert

preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c

Generously butter a medium soufflé dish or spring form pan.

  • 16 ounces sweetened chestnut puree
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brandy
  • shaved chocolate
  • powdered sugar

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Separate the eggs into separate mixing bowls and refrigerate bowl with the egg whites.

Whisk the egg yolks together with the chestnut puree until the mixture is thick and airy.

While continuing to whisk begin adding in small amounts of butter at a time while whisking until incorporated. Add the rum and whisk until combined and set aside.

Remove the egg whites from the refrigerator. Add a pinch of salt and using a whisk, or a hand held mixer, rapidly whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.

Then using a wide silicone spatula begin adding the egg whites, a generous dollop at a time to the chestnut puree mixture, gently fold in the whites in until they are incorporated before adding more egg whites. Continue until all of the whites are folded into the chestnut puree mixture. A few streaks of egg whites in the mixture are are fine.

Gently pour the batter into a buttered soufflé dish or spring form pan and place it gently in the center of the preheated oven.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the browning on the surface. If it’s browning too quickly open the oven door briefly and bake a little longer as needed.

Test by inserting a thin skewer gently into the center of the soufflé. If it comes out clean the soufflé is done

The soufflé will have puff up while baking but will fall once it transferred r to a rack to cool.

If you like add some shaved chocolate over the cooling surface of the soufflé.

A light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving is optional.

Bon appetite!

 

 

Autumn’s brilliant colors blanketing the landscape is always a vivid reminder that time is flurrying by and the holidays are just around the corner. For cooks this means it is time for some careful planning that is key to seamless holiday entertaining. Baking cookies tops my list. It is always good idea to include old favorites that are sure please everyone, but I like to include a cookie that has a back story.

Pumpkins and pecans are both native to the Americas. They pair well, and are ideal for both sweet and savory holiday baking projects. I urge you to try these festive pumpkin pecan cookies with a caramel Kahlua glaze. They are sure to liven up your holiday entertaining!

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Caramel Kahlua Glaze

Makes 24 cookies

preheat oven to 350 f / 180 c

Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted, and chopped
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Caramel Kahlua Glaze

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp Kahlua (or rum)
  • water to thin

 

Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and pop them into the preheat oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool. Then chop the pecans and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and auspice and whisk to combine.

, Combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl. Using either a stand or hand mixer, beat the ingredients on medium high speed until until light and fluffy.  Add the Greek Yogurt and beat  until incorporated. Then ddd the pumpkin puree, and vanilla, and mix on medium low speed until just combined.

Reduce mixer to ow speed and begin adding the dry ingredients. Mixing just until combined. The dough will be very firm.

Add the pecans and fold in using a silicone spatula until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using an ice cream scoop with prominently a 2 tablespoon capacity is ideal for shaping the cookies. Dipping the scoop into cold water before scooping up the dough w makes it so much easier to to release the dough onto prepared baking sheet without any fuss. Allow about 1 ½ inches between each cookie.

Gently press the tops of the cookies with your finger tips to flatten them slightly.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back half way through the baking time.

When done transfer the baking sheet to a rack and set aside to cool.

Once the cookies are cool you can prepare the glaze.

Measure out the powdered sugar and set aside.

Using a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the brown sugar and heavy cream set over medium heat. Swirl the pan until simmering. Once the mixture begins to boil turn the heat down so the mixture bubbles evenly, while swirling the pan, for 4 or 5 minutes without overheating.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the Kahlua and swirl until combined.

Promptly add the powdered sugar and whisk continuously until the mixture is smooth and thickening as it begins to cool down. If the mixture begins d to seize up just add a little water the thin it down a bit.

Quickly glaze the cookies by spooning the glaze over the top of each cookie in a circular motion. Work as fast as you can as the glaze will become less fluid as it cools. Should that happen just whisk in a little water to thin the glaze just enough to continue.

Allow the glazed cookies to set for 30 minutes. Yu can then place them in cookie tins with parchment sheets between layers.

 

 

Ditty's Hearty and ever so Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Ditty’s Hearty and ever so Healthy Breakfast Muffins

 

My dear sister has been baking various renditions of her ever evolving hearty breakfast muffins for as long as I can remember.

Like so many home cooks these days she has been updating and adapting her muffin recipe to accommodate her extended family’s food intolerance issues. Lactose and gluten intolerance are as common these days as is an awareness for reducing fats and sugar in our everyday

diets.

There is such an abundance of healthy nutritional ingredients baked into these breakfast muffins to fuel even the busiest of mornings!

 

Ditty’s Healthy and ever so Hearty Breakfast Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Equipment: 12 muffin baking tin lightly spritzed with cooking spray

preheat oven to 400 f /180 c with oven rack set in the center position.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup chopped dates, golden raisins, or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup broken pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds, + 12 whole nuts for garnish
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ½ cup applesauce or Greek yogurt, or a combination of both
  • 1cup peeled and diced apples or pears, optional

For the Holidays add the following :

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree to the batter;  omitting the of Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • a pinch  of clove
  • Topping:
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon each of cinnamon and sugar, combined
  • 12 whole nuts for garnish

 

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats all stirred together until well combined. Add the dates, or other dried fruit, and pecans, or other nuts, and the sugar. Using your hands massage all the ingredients together until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs and almond milk and whisk until combined.

Begin adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients while stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue adding the liquid mixture and folding it into the batter until well combined.

Add the applesauce and / or the Greek yogurt and fold in until well combined.

 

Then fold in the diced apples or pears if using.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tin until each cup his fully filled with batter and the batter that is mound up slightly in the center of each muffin.

Whisk the egg white and lightly brush the tops of each muffin. Place a whole nut atop each muffin and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Transfer the muffins into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the center of a muffin. If the skewer comes out clean when withdrawn the muffins are done.

Transfer the muffins in the tin to a cooling rack and set aside to cool.

Best to Serve the muffins while they are sill warm!

Lancaster County Peaches

 

PEACHES

Nothing compares to the exquisite taste of  ripened peaches just plucked from the trees here in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  Farm stands that dot the verdant green landscape are laden with an abundance of peaches, sweet corn, green beans, patti-pan squash, zucchini, eggplant, and of course the very best vine ripe tomatoes you will ever taste!

 

PEACHES

No recipes required! 

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