No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

In the heat of summer, I am always looking for fun low (or no) cook ways to…

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In the heat of summer, I am always looking for fun low (or no) cook ways to make and enjoy a little dessert. Give me all of your icebox cakes, no bake bars, and no bake cheesecakes! No bake cheesecake has all of the rich cream cheese flavor of it’s baked counterpart, but it is a bit lighter in texture and so easy to make. There are no water baths to fuss with and no worry about the top splitting on you.

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This no bake cheese cake is a great base for all sorts of summer fruit, but it would also be delicious with caramel or chocolate drizzled over the top instead. This version uses a literal heap of gorgeous fresh blueberries.

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The salty pretzel and nutty browned butter crust comes together quickly too, no baking required. It also ensures that the whole dessert is nice and balanced, and not too sweet. For a sweeter version feel free to substitute graham cracker or biscoff cookie crumbs for the preztels. You could even skip browning the butter in favor of just melting it, but the browned butter adds a ton of great flavor so I wouldn’t!

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The topping is a combination of fresh and cooked blueberries, the cooked ones make it a little saucy and help the blueberries stick together instead of sliding all over the place. I topped the whole thing with a few small leaves from my basil plant that look little little blueberry leaves. Mint would work too but the herbs are totally optional.


No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

Salty pretzels make a perfect base for this not to sweet cheesecake, but you could use graham crackers or biscoff cookie crumbs for a sweeter version - use gluten free cookies to make this desert for your gluten avoiding friends and family. The blueberry topping is partially cooked which creates some sauciness that helps the blueberries stick together, but if that’s a bridge too far for lazy summer cooking, you can just pile the top with lots of fresh blueberries. They may roll of when you slice it though!

 

Crust

175g/ 1 1/2 cups finely ground pretzels

50g/ 1/4 cup granulated sugar

340g/12 tablespoons unsalted butter

Filling

450g/ 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

100g/ 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract

240ml/ 1 cup heavy cream, cold

Topping

490g/ 3 1/2 cups blueberries

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Mint or basil leaves if desired


To make the crust: Combine the pretzels and sugar in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook the butter while scraping the bottom and sides of the pan occasionally with a rubber spatula. The butter will foam, then the solids will turn deep golden brown and smell nutty. Once the butter has browned pour it over the pretzels in the bowl then stir to combine. Let the mixture cool for a minute or two then pour it into a 9-inch pie pan. Carefully press it evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan, a 1/3 cup measure is a great tool for this. Set the pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure even mixing. 

Add the vanilla and lemon and stir to combine.

Switch to the whisk attachment and with the mixer on low, add the heavy cream. Turn the mixer up to medium high and whip until the mixture comes to stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.

Spoon the filling into the chilled crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for about 8 hours or overnight. 

To make the topping: When you are ready to serve the cheesecake put 280g/2 cups of the blueberries in a large bowl and set aside. Combine 140g/1 cup of the blueberries, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pot and cook until the blueberries have burst and released their juices, about 2 minutes. 

In a small bowl stir the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water, slowly pour it into the blueberry mixture in the pot while stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly for 45 seconds, until thick and glossy.

Pour the mixture over the blueberries in the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the blueberries over the chilled cheesecake and scatter the remaining 70g/ 1/2 cup blueberries over the top. Sprinkle mint or basil over the top and let the pie sit for a few minutes before slicing. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days.  

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Real Deal Cherry Pie

I had the good fortune of a day off right at the beginning of sour cherry s…

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I had the good fortune of a day off right at the beginning of sour cherry season last week (What, you don’t mark the weeks of summer using hyper-seasonal fruit as a guide? Just me?) so I put on some sunscreen and a hat, hopped in the car, and went in search of a u-pick farm. I was not disappointed to find a row of trees, heavy with fruit and not a soul in site at a farm a few hours from Brooklyn. It was a hot, hot day and the scent of the last strawberries in the field nearby filled the air as I filled up my bucket with precious sour cherries. 

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When I got home with my bounty, pie was the only choice. Instead of a traditional round, I went slab style and baked it in a quarter sheet pan. If you don’t have a quarter sheet pan or two, I highly recommend picking one up. At roughly 9x13x1, they are the perfect size to bake focaccia, a few cookies, toast nuts, or roast just about anything…but back to the sour cherries.

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Pitting cherries can be kind of a pain, but since sour cherries are so soft, I usually skip the pitter and just use my thumb to ease out the pits. It’s a bit of a sticky, drippy process so you can move your operation to the sink to make clean up super easy.

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I like my fruit pie fillings pretty simple, especially when the fruit is so special (and hard earned). This one is just sweet enough to highlight the cherries without totally overtaking their tart bite. I also added a bit of vanilla bean paste to round out the flavor, but a little bit of extract will do the trick too.

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The all butter pie crust has a bit of rye flour and brown sugar for toasty depth that is delicious with just about any fruit if sour cherries aren’t available where you live. It might be a little intimidating to roll out such a big piece of dough, but don’t you worry. To add both flakiness and structure to the dough, this recipe calls for a series of folds. The folds will make the dough both exceptionally delicious and easier to roll out and move around. Win-win. Check out the gif above to see how it’s done.

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Don’t worry if your dough rips a bit when you roll it out though, you can always pinch it back together. If you have time, make your dough the say before you plan to use it. A long rest will hydrate the dough and make it easier to roll out.

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I realize, it is a little unfair to share this recipe because sour cherries can be hard to get your hands on, but you still have a few more weeks to seek them out. Frozen will work in a pinch too, or substitute an equal amount of your favorite summer fruit - you will need a little less sugar for sweeter fruit.

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Real Deal Cherry Pie

Makes one 1/4 sheet slab pie

This pie makes the best of one of summer’s most fleeting pleasures, sour cherries. They are only available for a few weeks in late June/early July, but they are worth the wait, and the trouble of pitting them. The crust uses a bit of rye flour which adds some nutty and creamy flavor to the crust, and pairs beautifully with fruit desserts. Use an equal amount of all purpose flour if you have rye flour on hand. This filling recipe was lightly adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Martha Stewart, and loves sour cherries as much as I do. 

Rye Crust

340g/2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

170g/1 1/3 cups rye flour (I used Abruzzi Heirloom Rye from Anson Mills)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

10-12 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

340g/1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

Filling

900g/about 6 cups pitted sour cherries

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (165g) sugar (I used a natural cane sugar here, but granulated works too)

30g/1/4 cup cornstarch

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Pinch salt

 To finish

1 egg, for egg wash

Turbinado sugar to finish

To make the crust: Add the flours, brown sugar, and salt to a large bowl. Stir them together until combined. Add the apple cider vinegar to the ice water. Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create thin, flat shards of butter that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the water over the flour mixture and use your hands to mix gently, making sure to get all of the way down to the bottom of the bowl. Continue to add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. 

You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together easily without it falling apart. 

Press the dough together, then pat it into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, then split it in half, form each half into a rectangle and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least one hour before using, or overnight. I prefer an overnight rest if possible.

When you are ready to bake the pie, heat your oven to 400ºF.

Add the pitted cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, and salt to a large bowl and stir gently to combine.

Roll one piece of the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 11x15. Gently tuck it into a metal quarter sheet pan, letting the excess hang over the sides. Roll the other piece of dough into a rectangle about 10x14. 

Pour the cherries into the dough lined pan and top with other piece of dough. Gently fold the bottom dough up and over the top and press gently. Refrigerate the pie until the crust is firm, about 15 minutes.

While the pie chills, beat the egg with a few drops of water to make the egg wash. When the pie is nice and chilled gently brush the surface with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut a few vents in the top then bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 45-60 minutes.

Let the pie cool on a rack before serving warm or at room temperature. Ice cream is optional, but highly suggested.

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Banana Cream Pie

Classic Banana Cream Pie with a cookie crumb crust, vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and fresh whipped cream is the treat you need right now.

Classic Banana Cream Pie with a cookie crumb crust, vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and fresh whipped cream is the treat you need right now.

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This Classic Banana Cream Pie is from Erin Jean McDowell’s STUNNING new MASTERPIECE - The Book on Pie (affiliate link). This book has something for everyone from brand new beginners to experienced bakers looking to up their game.

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There are recipes for everything from perfect dough to some of the most beautiful decorative crusts, juicy fruit fillings, and towering gorgeous toppings I’ve ever seen. For my first bake from the book, I wanted to choose a classic and also something with PUDDING and whipped cream. Because, hello, pudding is an incredibly delicious food that doesn’t get enough credit.

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Erin’s version of this classic has a roll out crust, but had some chocolate cookies and biscoff to use up (and I didn’t have the patience to chill pie dough) so I went the crumb crust route, but I don’t think Erin would mind. The book is made to mix and match crusts, toppings, and fillings to your hearts content, and every recipe has amazing troubleshooting tips and variations too. Happy Pie Baking everyone!

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Classic Banana Cream Pie

Excerpted from THE BOOK ON PIE © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

MAKES: ONE 9-INCH/23-CM PIE

DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM

FILLING

452 g / 2 cups whole milk

118 g / 1/2 cup heavy cream

150 g / 3/4 cup granulated sugar

37 g / 1/3 cup cornstarch

3 g / 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

56 g / 2 large eggs

64 g / 3 large egg yolks

28 g / 1 ounce / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 g / 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

One 9-inch / 23-cm pie crust (see below), blind-baked, and cooled completely

450 g / 3 or 4 medium bananas, peeled and thickly sliced

Full Batch of Classic Whipped Cream (page 111/below)

1.     Make the filling: In a medium pot, bring the milk and heavy cream, to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

2.     Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt to combine. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk well to combine.

3.     When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, pour about one quarter of it into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper them. Pour this mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, switch to a silicone spatula, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and large bubbles break the surface. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted and the pudding is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

4.     Strain the pudding into the cooled pie crust and spread into an even layer. Cover the filling with plastic wrap placed directly against the surface and refrigerate until fully cooled and set, at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours).

5.     When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and arrange the bananas in an even layer on top of the pie, overlapping the slices so they are well packed together. Spread, spoon, or pipe the whipped cream topping on top. 

MAKE AHEAD AND STORAGE

The crust can be blind-baked up to 24 hours head. The pie can be prepared through step 4 up to  24 hours ahead and kept refrigerated. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 Basic Crumb Crust

MAKES: ONE 9-INCH/23-CM PIE

DIFFICULTY: EASY

Crumb crusts are even easier than press-in cookie crusts. You don’t even have to bake them—see the variation at right. The crumbs can be made out of cookies, crackers, cereal, pretzels, even potato chips! Sometimes sugar or other flavorings are added to the crumbs (here the sugar is optional), and then fat (usually melted butter) is added to bind the mixture to form a crust. The crumbs can be coarse, for a crunchier texture, or finer, for a smoother texture. Different base ingredients will behave differently, so the first time I test a crumb crust with a new ingredient, I always have a little extra on hand in case I need more crumbs, or a little extra melted butter, should it be needed.

Crumb crusts don’t generally require chilling before baking, but you can refrigerate for up to 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes, if desired, to firm them up before baking. I’m also including information in a chart on page 40 to help you adapt this easy recipe for any pan size.

 210 g / 1¾ cups cookie, cereal, chip, or cracker crumbs (I used half chocolate cookies and half biscoff -Yossy)

Up to 50 g / ¼ cup granulated sugar (optional) (I skipped it because my cookies were very sweet - Yossy)

2 g / ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

85 g / 3 ounces / 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more if needed

1.     In a medium bowl, stir the crumbs, sugar, if using, and salt together to combine. Stir in the melted butter and mix to combine. The crust should easily hold together in clumps when you press it together between your fingers (if it doesn’t, add a little more melted butter, 14 g /  1 tablespoon at a time, until it does).

2.     Press the crust evenly into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch / 23-cm pie plate: First make an even layer in the bottom of the pan, then press the rest of the crumbs up the sides (or halfway up the sides—see page 61). Sometimes I use the bottom of a small dry measuring cup to help press the crust in evenly; this is especially helpful in the corners of the pan.

3.     Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C (don’t use a Baking Steel/stone when baking a crumb crust). To parbake the crust, bake (no docking or pie weights required) for 10 to 12 minutes, until it begins to lightly brown at the edges (or, for darker crumbs, smells lightly toasty). To blind-bake the crust, bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until it is deeply golden brown and/or smells toasty.

PIE PEP TALK

What to Do When a Crumb Crust Shrinks: One of the most common problems I’ve seen with crumb crusts is that they can shrink or slump down the side of the pie plate when the crust is parbaked. Luckily, this is easily corrected. If you notice that your crust is starting to shrink, remove it from the oven and use a crust tamper (see page 20) or a small metal measuring cup to press the crust that slumped down back up the sides of the pie plate. If this happens consistently when you make crumb crusts, try tamping them down more aggressively and/or refrigerating for 30 minutes before baking.

Classic Whipped Cream

MAKES: 141, 283, OR 422 G / 1, 3, OR 4 CUPS, DEPENDING ON THE BATCH YOU CHOOSEDIFFICULTY: 

DIFFICULTY: EASY

It’s never a bad idea to serve pie with plenty of whipped cream. Think your pie is sweet enough? You can leave the sugar out—ain’t nothin’ wrong with plain ol’ whipped cream. For a luxurious twist, try the mascarpone variation below.

 FULL BATCH (for generously covering the whole pie)

235 g / 1 cup heavy cream

50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar

5 g / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1.     In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the cream on medium-low speed until it begins to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, then continue to whip to medium peaks. Add the vanilla, if using, and mix to combine.

 MAKE AHEAD AND STORAGE

Plain whipped cream is best made just before it is used, but you can intentionally under-whip the cream (to just under soft peaks), then finish by whipping by hand when you’re ready to serve. It will hold this way for up to 4 hours. The mascarpone variation can be made up to 6 hours ahead and held in the refrigerator. Whip a few times gently to refresh before using.


Excerpted from THE BOOK ON PIE © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 


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Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust | Raaka Baking Chocolate

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One of my very favorite chocolate makers in NYC, Raaka Chocolate, is launching a new line of baking chocolate today! They are starting with two delicious varieties,  Oat Milk 58% cacao that I used in this chocolate mousse tart and Maple Dark 75% cacao. They will launch two more varieties in the coming weeks, and they have cacao powder and cacao nibs too! I got a sneak peek of all four varieties and I have enjoyed baking with (and just plain eating) these little chocolate discs so much. 

This decadent Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust is definitely fit for a special occasion, but isn’t too tricky to put together. The crust is the easy-peasy pat in the pan variety and the mousse is just as good on its own as it is in this buttery, crisp, toasty crust. You could even just make the chocolate mousse and skip the crust all together, but don’t skip the billowy whipped cream! 

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 Raaka Chocolate is unroasted which highlights all of the natural fruitiness of cacao so it’s flavor profile might be a little different than your everyday chocolate, and it is so, so tasty. They are also a company that values the community of growers, producers, and makers whose livelihoods depend on cacao and chocolate and are very transparent about their sourcing practices. You can read all about it on their website. Let me know if you try it!

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 This post was sponsored by Raaka Chocolate.


Oat Milk Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust

Makes one 9-inch tart

This decadent chocolate tart is more than the sum of its parts. The toasty-oaty crust provides a perfect base for rich and decadent chocolate mousse made with Raaka’s sublimely delicious Oat Milk chocolate. The mousse is delicious on its own for gluten free folks too. 

Browned Butter Oat Crust

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter

2/3 cup (60g) rolled oats

1 cup (130g) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (35g) confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Water, as needed

Oat Milk Chocolate Mousse

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons strong coffee or coffee liqueur

3 large egg yolks

Pinch salt

4 ounces Raaka Oat Milk Chocolate finely chopped, plus a little more to garnish

1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

Heat your oven to 375ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan.

Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Make sure to use a pan with a light colored interior so you can see the milk solids change color. Continue to cook the butter, stirring occasionally, scraping the milk solids off of the bottom and sides of the pan as necessary. After a few minutes the milk solids should turn golden brown and smell toasty. Transfer the toasty browned butter to a heat safe container and let it cool slightly.

Add the oats to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until the oats are broken up a bit. Add the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt and pulse about 10 times or until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Drizzle the butter into the mixture and pulse until combined. The mixture should hold together easily when you squeeze it in your hands. If it seems very dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it holds together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to make the crust smooth and even. Bake the crust until it is golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Set it on a rack to cool completely.

When the shell is cool, make the mousse. 

Whisk 3/4 cup of the heavy cream to soft peaks and store in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the mousse.

Set a heatsafe bowl over a pan of simmering water to make a double boiler. Add the sugar, coffee, egg yolks, and a pinch of salt to the bowl and whisk the mixture until it is very hot to the touch (about 160ºF), pale yellow and doubled in volume. 

Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Off of the heat, add a heaping spoonful of the whipped cream and whisk it into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold to combine. Pour the mousse into the cooled shell, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Just before serving whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks dollop it over the mousse. Grate a bit more chocolate over the top and serve.

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The Classic Birthday Cake

It’s birthday season in Apartment 2 …

King Arthur Classic Birthday Cake | apt 2b baking co King Arthur Classic Birthday Cake | apt 2b baking co

It’s birthday season in Apartment 2 (we lost the B in our move, years ago) and you all know I love a big ol birthday cake. I have to admit that I have been a chocolate cake/vanilla frosting devotee for many years but after trying this yellow cake recipe my preference just may be flipping upside down. It is straight from King Arthur so you can head on over to their site to check it out.

The method for mixing the cake is a little unusual, but it gives this cake a really nice crumb and moist texture. I find yellow/white cakes can be kind of bland and dry, but not this one! Make sure to use high quality cocoa powder in the frosting, it makes a huge difference.

Buttermint Patties

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Anyone else LOVE buttermints? You know, those old fashioned kinda hard, kinda chalky, but also creamy little candies that come with the check at some restaurants? I find them totally irresistible and these little confections have all the creamy, minty deliciousness of a buttermint with the texture, and chocolate coating of a peppermint patty. They are a perfect treat to make for holiday gifts, not too hard, but very special and VERY tasty.

I covered these with (slightly imperfect) tempered chocolate, which gives the candies a crisp and shiny chocolate coating at room temperature, but tempering can be kind of tricky business. I find the seeding method to be the most straightforward. But the great news is, even if your chocolate isn’t perfectly tempered you can just store your mints in the fridge - which honestly I’d recommend anyway because I think these are best served chilled. Here’s another great article by David Lebovitz about tempering.


Buttermint Patties

slightly adapted from Amanda Fredrickson’s Peppermint Patties

makes about 4 dozen, depending on size

You can coat these with any type of chocolate you like. I did some with semisweet and some milk, and some with a little of both. Just make sure to use high quality feves or chocolate bars - do not use chocolate chips which contain stabilizers that you don’t want for a coating like this. You can also top them with a little bit of crushed peppermint candy or cacao nibs. Also, feel free to divide the dough and make half with nibs and half without, which is what I did for the photos in this post.

Filling

5 cups (550g) confectioner’s sugar

3 tablespoons corn syrup

3 tablespoons (45g) cultured butter, softened

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons peppermint extrat

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)

Topping

18 ounces high quality chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet or milk), chopped

flaky salt (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all of the filling ingredients except for the cacao nibs. Mix on low until all of the ingredients are moistened, add the cacao nibs (if using) then turn the mixer up to medium and mix until the mixture is the consistency of play dough.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/4’’ thick. Remove the top parchment and use a 1 1/2 or 2-inch circle cutter (or any other shape you like) to cut as many rounds as possible. Pull the excess dough away from the rounds (the rounds may be soft and tricky to move). Slide the parchment paper with the rounds onto a baking sheet and refrigerate. Gather up the dough scraps, re roll and cut more rounds. Again, transfer the parchment paper with the rounds onto a baking sheet and refrigerate. Repeat until all of the dough is used.

While the rounds are chilling, temper the chocolate. Use a fork to dip the chilled rounds in the chocolate and shake off the excess. Transfer them to a clean piece of parchment paper to dry. Sprinkle with flaky salt or use the fork to drizzle with more chocolate for decoration. Let them harden then store, with layers of parchment in between the layers in an airtight container.

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Fancy Jello Mold

Photo: Joe Lingeman for NYMAG

I don’t know about you guys, but I think jelly molds are ready for a comeback. Or are they already back? …

Photo:  Joe Lingeman  for  NYMAG

Photo: Joe Lingeman for NYMAG

I don’t know about you guys, but I think jelly molds are ready for a comeback. Or are they already back? I’ve seen them popping up here and there, and I have made a surprising number of them for photoshoots this year. I have totally fallen in love with their kitchy vibe and stunning colors. They can be totally delicious too! NYMag agrees and they asked me to create a gift worthy jelly mold for their annual gift guide which is on newsstands today. 

Impress your guests this holiday or bring one to a potluck and totally blow your friends minds. All you need is a fun shaped vessel – I like decorative cake pans (Nordicware makes great ones) but you could totally just use a regular glass or stainless mixing bowl, gelatin, juice, and some time. Have fun! Happy Holidays! 


Fancy Jelly Mold

I used Nordicware’s Charlotte Pan for this jelly, which is super cute and the little divots on top are the perfect shape to hold a cranberry or a raspberry. If you’d like to make a larger jelly mold you can double or triple this recipe. This jelly has some Framboise in it, but to make it more family friendly you can substitute cranberry juice for the Framboise. Pomegranate juice will also make a very tasty jelly, but it will be a bit more opaque and tart than the cranberry.

To suspend fruit in a larger mold, let the cranberry jelly mixture set until it is the texture of egg whites. At this point you can fold the fruit into the jelly and spoon it into the mold. The pictured mold uses cranberry juice, but you can also use pomegranate juice. The jelly will be slightly less clear and you will need to add 2 more tablespoons of sugar if using pomegranate juice.

For a clear jelly - Use white cranberry juice (or prosecco!) - every 3 cups of juice will need 2 envelopes of gelatin to set. You can also add a bit of clear liquor to the mix, like elderflower. Yum! If you’d like to add edible flowers, let the jelly set until it is the consistency of egg whites, pour it into the mold and place the flowers in the jelly one at a time. Make sure to arrange them to the prettiest side of the flowers is facing out because we all know this is about looks.

24 fresh cranberries

3 (1/4 ounce) envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin

3 1/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail or pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons sugar 

4 tablespoons Framboise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk 

Food coloring (if desired)


Place 1 cranberry in each divot of the pan and set in the fridge to chill. 

Bloom the gelatin. In a small bowl stir the gelatin into 1 cup of the cranberry juice. Let sit for 5 minutes, until the gelatin is moistened.

Heat 1 cup cranberry juice and the sugar until simmering. Remove it from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, warm it gently over low heat if necessary to dissolve the gelatin, but do not boil. Add the remaining cranberry juice, lemon juice, and Framboise, and stir to combine.

Divide the mixture between 2 containers (a measuring cup with a spout works great) and stir the condensed milk into 1/2 of the gelatin mixture. Keep the gelatin at room temperature as you build the layers.

Pour a thin layer of the clear cranberry gelatin over the top of the chilled cranberries in the mold, just to cover the cranberries and the bottom of the mold. Chill until completely firm, about 30 minutes. After it has chilled, gently pour 1/2 of the condensed milk gelatin mixture over the top and refrigerate until completely firm, about 30 minutes. 

At this point, if you’d like the finished mold to be more colorful you can add food coloring to the remaining batches of gelatin. I tinted the bottom layer of the pictured mold with a tiny bit of orange.

Pour a layer of the cranberry gelatin over the chilled condensed milk gelatin and refrigerate until firm. Finish with the last layer of condensed milk gelatin and chill until completely firm, 4 hours or overnight. If the remaining gelatin hardens in between these steps you can very gently warm it over low heat. Do not boil it or it will not set.

To unmold, dip the gelatin mold in warm water for about 10 seconds. Place a serving platter over the top and invert. The gelatin should gently fall onto the plate. If it doesn’t quickly dip it in warm water again. Slice and serve!

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

I posted a photo of this sunshiney pumpkin pie a few days ago on Instagram and lots of you nice folks asked for the recipe, so here it is! Its the pumpkin pie recipe from my book a…

winter luxury pumpkin pie | apt 2b baking co.JPG

I posted a photo of this sunshiney pumpkin pie a few days ago on Instagram and lots of you nice folks asked for the recipe, so here it is! Its the pumpkin pie recipe from my book and it includes a few of my very favorite things - maple syrup, creme fraiche, and roasted squash puree. You can definitely use canned pumpkin puree too, but roasted butternut squash is nice if you have it. The crust in this photo was a little experiment that I am working on, but I have linked to my favorite crust below. Feel free to use what you like if you have another one though. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pie

from Sweeter off the Vine

Makes one 9-inch pie

 A couple of years ago, after attending the Common Ground Fair in Maine, I fell in love with the winter luxury pumpkin. Winter luxuries are an heirloom variety of pumpkin prized for their caramel infused flavor and smooth texture. They are admittedly hard to find, even in NYC, but if you can locate one where you live I highly suggest picking it up. They are about the size of a sugar pumpkin and they have beautiful netting on their skin, almost like a cantaloupe. Winter luxuries (that name!) have thinner skins than most hard winter squash so they can’t be stored as long as other varieties, which is part of the reason they have fallen out of favor with farmers. Substitute roasted butternut squash or canned pumpkin purée if winter luxury pumpkins aren’t available where you live. If you are concerned about over filling the pie shell, bake any extra filling alongside the pie in buttered ramekins until it puffs slightly in the center.

1 disc of your favorite pie crust - This is mine  

 2 cups (450g) roasted butternut squash purée (canned pumpkin works too!)

3/4 cup Grade B maple syrup

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup (112g) crème fraîche

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 425ºF.

 To blind bake the crust:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a roughly 12-inch circle about 1/8- inch thick. Place it into a 9 or 10-inch pie plate fold the edges under and crimp. Dock the crust with a fork. Chill the formed crust in the freezer for 15 minutes or until very firm. Line the chilled crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Slide the crust into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden and crisp. Carefully remove the parchment paper and weights then bake the crust for 10-15 more minutes or until light golden all over. If the crust puffs up at all while baking gently press it back into the pan with an offset spatula or fork. Let the crust cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

Turn the oven down to 350ºF. 

Whisk all of the filling ingredients together until well combined. Then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve for maximum smoothness.

 Put the baked pie shell on a baking sheet, then pour the filling mixture into the shell. Slide the pan into the oven and bake until the filling is slightly puffed and the center wiggles just slightly when you shake the pan, about 30 minutes. Cool the pie completely before serving with a dollop of whipped cream.