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Archive for the ‘dessert’


Lobsters, Cheesecake, Burial Plans: Summer 2011 2

Posted on July 20, 2011 by crankycheryl

It’s turning out to be kind of a crazy summer around here.

Z. turned six two weeks ago.  He’d been planning his birthday for a year, and actively fixating on it for at least six months, encouraged by the constant flow of birthdays in his kindergarten class.

After extensive negotiations we decided to go camping, and that I’d go into a nearby town and find him a cheesecake.  And I’d get him lobster.  So we went camping.  I had contacted the Barnard General Store, who ordered and cooked lobsters for us at a ridiculously cheap price.  I picked them up and brought them back to our campsite to eat with corn and potatoes for dinner.


I had been worried about the boys’ sensitive little hearts.  This was going to be the first time that they had eaten something while actually looking at its face.   I placed a lobster on each plate, and started helping the boys crack them open to get to the meat.  After I had removed a claw and handed it to E. to start to get the meat out of, he took it, pinched the lobster’s still-attached antenna eand started singing,

Why are you pinching yourself, why’d you do that?!  Why you pinching yourself, huh, huh?!

And cackling wildly.  I realized they were made of tougher stuff than I had given them credit for.

After dinner it was on to dessert.  I hadn’t been able to find a cheesecake in even one of Woodstock’s precious little bakeries and stores.  So I had bought gelatin and sugar and cream cheese and, along with crushed up pretzels and fresh cherries we had back at camp, turned it into one of  those silly no-bake ones.

And I got out the candles and we sang and there were presents and then we tried the cake.  I thought it was pretty good, considering how it came into being.

Z. tried it, and then set me straight, looking earnestly at me and saying, Mommy, I wanted a cheesecake like this (shows me both thumbs up), but this one is like this (thumbs sideways, reproachful look).  I think I sort of mumbled something about how it may not have been perfect but wasn’t it cool that he had a mom who cared enough to make him cheesecake?  While camping?  With no oven?

Whatever.  He was right.  The only cool thing about it was that it actually happened.

And then a few days later, just about the time I had gotten the camping stuff put away, the boys hit me with this beaut as we were leaving the Y after swimming:

Mommy, when you die do you want to be all burned up or buried in the ground in a coffin?

What the hell?  Can they hear the hypochondria streaming between my ears?  My mental reviews of the state of my will because my foot hurts and PT isn’t working and my restless leg syndrome is getting weird again?

I asked them if they really wanted to know.  They assured me they did.

I could have done what the textbooks say, which would have been to answer the question as it was asked and then shut up.

Instead, I took a different route.

Instead I said something like,

Well, you know how I really care about other people and about recycling and taking care of planet Earth, right?  See, you can be what’s called an organ donor when you’re done with your body and that’s really cool because they take like your eyes or your liver and they give it so someone else so they can use it.  And you can even let people learn from you after you’re done living by letting them use your body for experiments and stuff and then they get to be really good doctors and help other people and that’s super great because it’s like you helped those people too.  And then when everything useful is gone I want to be all burned up and put on the compost pile at cohousing so I can be part of the garden forever.  Cool, right?

My final resting place. Or maybe it'll be over by the tomatoes.

You’re probably as surprised as I was to learn that they didn’t think it was cool at all.  They started wailing and yelling with their eyes all wide and welling up and everything, and then they swore they’d use swords and guns to defend my dead body so it could be in the ground in a coffin like it should be.  And that they could put their own coffins next to mine when they died.  And that we’d all spend eternity lying in our boxes next to where their dad buried his dead pet rats.

I’m pretty sure I agreed to all this.

After the crappy cheesecake, it only seemed fair.

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Yellow Jacket Cake 0

Posted on June 11, 2011 by crankycheryl

Considering how he’s not really a foodie, E. invents an awful lot of new recipes.  There have been cheese soup suggestions, a lobster and strawberry thing, a hotdog and watermelon soup, and there are always ideas for cakes.  I slightly wish I was one of the moms who let their kids make whatever they dream up, could indulge all of his imaginings, but I can’t afford fantasy groceries.  And I hate wasted food.

Z. is different, a guy who likes to access information he knows is good.  When he asked for oatmeal the other morning, he was excited to run to our Fairy Tale Feasts book and find the recipe associated with it before running off for his little step-stool so he could watch it bubble away on the stove.  He nodded in satisfaction when it tasted right.

Every now and then we all agree on something that E. has dreamed up, and that’s how we came to make the Yellow Jacket Cake he’s been suggesting for some months now.    He kept telling me about the yellow lemon cake that had “sugar … milk … and eggs.  And flour, mommy.  And it looks like a yellow jacket.”  We needed a cake for our big school spring event, something that would have great kid appeal, but not send me into a state of cringe with its ingredients.  The usual thing is to make one from a box, cover it with frosting from a can, and then dump leftover candy all over the top.  (The tip from other moms is that it’s your ticket to moving out all the leftover Easter candy you still have around.)  But cake is easy, and I don’t like to bake from a mix unless I’m cooking for a highly allergic type person and I need to make sure that there’s been absolutely no contamination from offending ingredients.

Buzz buzz.  This recipe made one single-layer lemon-marshmallow cake and a half-dozen cupcakes for home.  E took a look at the cake  and said, “It’s okay, but I was expecting it to be a lot taller.  Next time: five layers, Mommy.”  I nodded.  Maybe.  But I noted that our cake was among the first ones chosen at the big school shindig, so I’m declaring it officially good enough.

Yellow Jacket Cake
Serves 8-plus
I made mine as one single-layer cake and six cupcakes, but for simplicity’s sake am writing this as if for a double layer cake.

Lemon Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans with removable bottoms.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, then lemon juice and zest.
  3. Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Spread batter into pans, then bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. (While cake is baking, make the ridiculously easy and vaguely naughty frosting below.)
  6. Remove cake from pans and cool on racks.

Lemon-Marshmallow Frosting

  • 3 c. Fluff (or Ricemellow, if you’d like to be reasonably pure)
  • 1 1/2 c. organic non-hydrogenated palm frosting
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel
  • Optional: tiny dash of yellow food coloring
  • Optional: black and yellow colored sugars and yellow and black candy
  1. Beat all ingredients together until fluffy and thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust flavor to your palate, with more fluff or lemon juice as necessary.
  2. Frost the cooled cakes:  place one upside down on a large plate, and spread a layer of frosting over the top of it.  Place the other layer, upside down, on top.  Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake – this is your crumb coat, so don’t worry if it does in fact have crumbs and bits of cake in it.  Then cover that first coat with the remaining frosting, making it as swirly and fluffy as you like.
  3. To make it yellow jacket-ish, sprinkle black and yellow sugars in stripes across the top, then toss on any appropriately colored leftover stale crappy candy you can’t even believe you bought in the first place.   Voila.

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Apricot-Coconut Macaroons (with sugar or not) 1

Posted on April 21, 2011 by crankycheryl

 

I don’t seem to have landed any seder invitations this year, but I still want a taste of Passover.  When she was alive, my grandma Ruth would buy boxes of matzo that we’d eat with margarine, along with little almond macaroons out of the can and jars of Manischewitz gefilte fish.

For better or worse, that’s what Passover tastes like to me.  We weren’t religious at all so there was never a seder – just a trip to my grandmother’s pantry and companionable snack at her kitchen table.

But now I don’t want processed foods so much, and I’m not having flour and sugar.   Still, I wanted something Passover-ish, and these occurred to me.  They just couldn’t be easier (just make sure to soak those apricots ahead) and they’re really good.  If, like me, you’re off sugar, make them with the unsweetened coconut for a treat that’s fruity but barely sweet.  And if you’re a normal sort of eater, go ahead and use the sweetened coconut.  Yum.

Apricot-Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 20

1.  For at least 2 hours or overnight, soak in just enough warm water to cover:

  • 1 c. dried apricots

When very soft, puree with just enough of the soaking liquid to allow it to process into a smooth paste.

2.  Preheat oven to 325.  Oil a baking sheet or cover with parchment and set aside.

3.  Beat until stiff and dry in a medium bowl:

  • 2 egg whites

4.  Add to the egg whites and combine well:

  • 2 1/2 c. unsweetened (or sweetened) shredded coconut
  • 1 c. of the apricot puree
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • (pinch of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon or dried orange peel: optional)

The mix will be thick and fairly chunky.  Just make sure the ingredients are well incorporated.

5.  Form into small balls and then flatten one side.  Place on the baking sheet a couple of inches apart (they don’t need room to spread, but you do want good air flow between them so they can cook evenly and brown well).  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until fragrant and golden.  Let cool and eat.

They’ll keep for 3 or 4 days at room temperature, and freeze well too.

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Valentine’s Day Meringues 0

Posted on February 12, 2011 by crankycheryl

They’re pink, they’re sweet, they’re simple and light as air, and they’re my entry for the City Market We Love Local Food Dessert Recipe Challenge.

City Market is acceptng entries until 2/20 and you should feel free to go ahead and enter, but don’t make anything better than this because I want to win the year of maple syrup, okay?

A couple of notes in advance:

  • Make sure you’ve got parchment or silpat sheets ready ahead of time.  You really need the easy-release feature for meringues.
  • Have a roasted beet around and this will come together very quickly.
  • For the purposes of striving for an extra-beautiful picture, I decided I was going to try to make really beautiful meringues and went to the trouble of loading up my pastry decorator-tube thing and attempted to pipe out shapes.  I didn’t get better results than I do just using a spoon, but you should give it a try if you want.

Naturally Pink Meringues
About 30 meringues

1.  Preheat oven to 250.

2.  Have ready:

  • 1 medium roasted beet, pureed until exceedingly smooth with 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup

3.  Beat until they stand in firm peaks:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/8 t. cream of tartar
  • tiny pinch sea salt
  • (optional: 1 t. vanilla or rosewater)

 

4.  With the beater still going, add in:

  • 2 T. beet puree, one tablespoon at a time
  • maple syrup, in three slow pours

Beat well until well incorporated and a lovely shade of pink.

5.  Drop by heaping tablespoons on parchment-covered baking sheets.  Place in oven and turn heat down to 225.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, then turn off heat and leave in oven for several hours (I always leave them in over night).

Gently remove and store in a covered container for up to 2-3 weeks.

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Thank You Cookies 0

Posted on December 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

These are the cookies we make to give our letter carrier, garbagemen, firefighters and our other year-round helpers.   And when Z.’s teacher asked his class to bring in something from a family holiday tradition, these were the first thing that came to mind.

They are chewy and fudgy, somewhere between brownies and cookies, delicious and chocolate-y and very addictive, which is why I only make them once a year.   (Though, full disclosure: 5-year old “Stewie” in Zander’s class didn’t like them because he doesn’t like fruit with his chocolate.)

Whatever, kid.

Herrick Family Thank You Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food Black Forest Cookies

Makes 36

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners and set aside.

2.   In a medium bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
3.  Place in a large glass or otherwise heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth:
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4.  Remove from heat, then whisk in separately and thoroughly:
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 2 large eggs
Whisk until smooth.
5.   Whisk in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in:
  • 1 package (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or tart cherries
Cover well and refrigerate until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.
6.   Drop mounds of dough (equal to 2 level tablespoons) about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake just until edges are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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S’more Cupcakes 2

Posted on October 16, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’m never sure what’s going to happen when I offer to donate goodies for charity auctions.  Sometimes they end up uncollected, and sometimes they end up being great big jobs that take days to prepare.  Still, we’ve got so many good causes around here, and it’s fun to be creative in unexpected ways.

I was happy to donate a couple dozen custom cupcakes for our beloved Intervale Center’s recent auction.  The order turned out to be a rush job for an 8-year old’s birthday.  Lucky for me, she knew exactly what she wanted: s’more cupcakes – vanilla cupcake, marshmallow frosting, chocolate, and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  Super easy, and it gave me a chance to work with Fluff, which is very likely my favorite guilty pleasures.

S’more Cupcakes
1 dozen

For cupcakes, follow this recipe, which is as easy and yummy a regulation vanilla cupcake I’ve ever found.

Marshmallow Frosting
Whip together on high speed until fluffy (-er) and well combined:

  • 2 cups Fluff (our health food store also carries a vegan rice fluff-ish thing)
  • 1 cup organic non-hydrogenated type frosting (you can substitute unsalted butter if you prefer, but shortening will give you a firmer set and will hold better if you want to make this a day ahead
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

To decorate:

Frost the cooled cupcakes.  Roll them on a diagonal in finely crushed crumbs from about:

  • 8 graham crackers

Then top with:

  • 1 small piece of chocolate (for my own family I would have used some Lake Champlain Chocolate squares, but I didn’t know if the birthday girl would tolerate deviation from regulation s’more ingredients)

Make ahead note:

  • You can make everything up to a day ahead, but don’t construct more than a few hours before you plan to serve.  Otherwise your crumbs will lose their crisp.
  • The cupcakes can be baked and cooled farther ahead and frozen.
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Best Freaking Apple Pie Ever 4

Posted on September 24, 2010 by crankycheryl

First: if you’re here in northern Vermont too and are after apples, you must go to the UVM Hort Farm.  If you have even an iota of apple love or food geekiness, you will fall in love with the shed and its many, changing varieties of apples and how folks from all walks of life come through for their $1/lb. apples.  And not just any apples, but many that you can’t get in stores, from the organic and IPM orchards in which UVM grows different varieties to test for various traits.

I went a little crazy, which I’m sure you’ll find hard to believe, and found myself leaving with 18 pounds of fruit, with a sample of each posed here.

Starting from the red spotty one and going clockwise, that’s Speckles (NY-75414-1), Arlet, Silken, Gala, Jubilee Fuji, NY-74828,  and in the middle must be CQR 12-t-50.

And then it was sometime around then that we got an invite to an Apple Pie Fest for a friend’s birthday.  A contest, even, with prizes for all who entered.  E. isn’t terribly into cooking these days, but I grabbed him long enough to get his votes: sweet or savory crust?  Double or single crust?  I got out all sorts of aromatic spices and let the boys choose which we’d use, and after a lot of sniffing we settled on cinnamon.  So traditional it was.

We got out the excellent Cooking with Shelburne Farms and gave their recipe a whirl.  It was the best pie I’ve ever made.  Maybe it’s because I was in teaching mode and explaining why this thing is cold and why we pulse in the liquid just so as the crust is coming together and so I was actually following directions.  The directions are a bit long, but just follow them and you too will be in for a fall treat.

Apple Pie
Adapted with permission from Cooking with Shelburne Farms

Makes one 10-inch pie (I doubled and made two, which was perfect for both our weekend parties)

Crust:

1.  Place in the freezer to chill:

  • 1/2 c. milk

2.  In a food processor, pulse together:

  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (we used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat pastry)
  • 2 T. white sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt

3.  Cut into small pieces and then work into the flour with six short pulses:

  • 6 T. cold vegetable shortening (we used the non-hydrogenated palm oil kind)

Repeat with:

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Pulse a few additional times, until the mixture is pebbly with small bits of the butter still visible.

4.  Pour:

  • 1/4 c. chilled milk

through the food processor tube, and pulse three or four times.  Add the rest of the milk one tablespoon at a time, with short pulses, just until the dough starts to come together (it won’t do so like bread dough does, and it’s better to under-work your crust than overwork it so err on the side of under-mixing it if you’re unsure).

Get out two plastic bags or two large squares of plastic wrap.  Turn the dough out into a large bowl and gather it together in two equal balls.  Flatten them slightly into round disks, place in bags or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450.

The Filling

5.  Peel, core and slice:

  • 3 lbs. (6 – 8 large) apples

Given our Hort Farm adventure, we used a mix of Arlet, Speckles and Galas.  Pie apples are a matter of much debate, with very strong preferences given for particular varieties.  Use what you like.

Toss them with:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2-3 T. unbleached flour (add 2 T. and then see if you seem to have extra-juicy fruit and add the additional T. if necessary)
  • 1/4 t. salt

6.  Unwrap one chilled ball of dough and place it on a large, lightly floured surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the ball from the center out until the dough is in a circle about 1/3″ thick and about 13″ in diameter.  If there are cracks and tears as you roll, go ahead and patch and pinch together to repair.

Use a thin metal spatula to nudge the dough around the rolling pin, and lift it to the pan, patching it as necessary.  Fill it with the apples, mounding them in the center.  Top with:

  • 2 T. slices of butter

6.  Roll out the second ball of dough in the same way as the first.  If you like, you can create a vent in the crust by using your favorite cookie cutter to remove a small shape from the center.  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water, and then lay the top crust on top the same way the bottom one was moved.  Leave a 1/4″ overhang all around, trim the excess with a sharp knife as necessary and crimp the edges.

7.  Brush the top lightly with milk, cut vents if you decided not to remove the cookie shape in step 6, and sprinkle all over with sugar.  Set on a rack in the lower third of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

8.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 and move the pie to the lowest setting in the oven.  If the edge of the crust is browning too fast, use a long thin piece of foil to protect only the edge.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden-brown and the apples are soft when pierced.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Then you can bring it to a party, where it can join a stellar line-up of pies, and maybe it too will win the “Tastiest Pie” medal.

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Peach, Maple & Clothbound Cheddar in Phyllo 2

Posted on September 08, 2010 by crankycheryl

Poor crankyGreg.  Last week he looked at me plaintively across the kitchen as I was preparing to blanch/can/freeze/pickle something or other and asked, “Can’t we just eat it?  Like just enjoy it now?”

Oh dear.  He’s right.  I’ve been far too focused on food preservation and too often forgetting to just enjoy the harvest, the end of the warm weather, the flood of funny things E. & Z. emit every day.  (E., on Monday:  “Mommy, I know what I want to be when I grow up.  Now I just need a herd of really fierce goats.” Z., on Tuesday:  “This is a picture of me with Josie from Josie and the Pussycats.  But I still don’t know whether to marry her or Daphne from Scooby Doo or (our 16-year old neighbor) Marlena!”)

Then yesterday E. came into the kitchen carrying one of those wiggly wooden toy snakes as I was working on dinner for a growing number of neighbors.  “Mommy, I want you to make Snake Cake,”  he told me, flopping the snake on the counter.  Chopping furiously, I asked him what should go in it.  “You know, cake dough, flour, milk.  And the snake.”  Sure.  I told him I’d fit it in if I could, and when dessert was served, that’s what he told his friend she was eating.

In reality, it was a lovely and sophisticated (i.e. “not too sweet)  little harvest confection:  sliced just-off-the-tree peaches, caramelized with butter, maple syrup and ground cherries, topped with just a bit of crumbled clothbound cheddar, all between layers of crispy phyllo.  Quick, as easy as phyllo gets, and I didn’t freeze or otherwise preserve one bit of it.

Peach, Maple & Clothbound Cheddar in Phyllo
20 small servings

Before you start, make sure your phyllo has been defrosted and brought to room temperature.  Have at hand a barely damp tea towel for keeping the wrapped sheets covered while you work.

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Melt in a large saucepan:

  • 2 T. unsalted butter

3.  When butter is melted and starting to bubble lightly add:

  • 3 chopped fresh peaches
  • (I had 1/2 cup of ground cherries around, which I added after husking and washing, but they’re optional)
  • 3 T. maple syrup

Let cook until fruit releases juices, but still holds its shape.  Remove from heat.

4.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Lay one sheet of phyllo in the bottom, then spray thoroughly.  Repeat four times.  Spread peach filling on top, then crumble over it:

  • 1/2 c. finely crumbled clothbound or other aged cheddar

Lay another sheet of phyllo on top, spray, and repeat four more times.  Spray top of the phyllo generously, then score into serving pieces.  The easiest way to do this is to take a very sharp knife and cut lengthwise into thirds, then diagonally across in six cuts.

5.  Place in oven and cook until top layers are browned, and filling is visibly bubbling.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove individual portions from pan.

To re-freeze any remaining phyllo, wrap in double layers of plastic wrap and return to box, then place in freezer.

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Maple-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 4

Posted on September 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

I have a predilection for inappropriate competitiveness that dovetails beautifully with culinary contests.  And when our fair’s Whoopie Pie competition ended up on a day I knew I’d have free, there was little chance of me missing it.

I’d been there earlier in the week, and had scoped out the scene of the King Arthur Flour-sponsored contests.  I hit the computer for a whoopie pie research and recipe.  I liked the concept, suggested by some, that the whoopie pie was sort of a working class macaron, a lovely little confection that’s always seemed entirely too fussy for me to consider making.

Knowing that my talents lie more in the region of presentation and flavor than technical baking, I decided that interesting flavors were the way to go.  I love the combo of maple and peanut butter, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Given that KAF was the sponsor, I based my recipe on theirs.  My first try, using butter for the fat, was a failure in that the cookies ran together into flat pancakes.

Luckily, I had time for a second try, when I used organic unhydrogenated shortening to much better, more cookie-shaped, results.

I got to the fair to discover that I was the 10th of 12 contestants to enter the competition.   All I could see of the competitors’ was chocolate, and there’s no way to judge a whoopie pie from its appearance, so I sat down to wait and watch the judges with other Ladies Who Enter Fair Contests.  Together we tried to determine what the panel’s body language meant, and was it bad or good if your plate’s tag was in a particular position and other such arcane things.

Soon enough the agony was over and I didn’t win a ribbon.  When I tried the winners’ entries, I had to agree: a great whoopie pie is cakey and fairly thick; my cookies had great flavor, but were distinctly cookie-ish.   So it’s back to research to find a soft and cakey non-chocolate whoopie pie recipe, which doesn’t sound like too bad a winter’s hobby.  And in the meantime, here’s a really delicious maple-peanut butter cookie recipe for your fall enjoyment.

Maple-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
About 9 sandwiches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

1.  Whisk together:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2.  In a separate bowl, whip until very light:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or natural shortening, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

When very fluffy and well combined, add in:

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla

3.  Add dry mixture to wet in three parts, and stir just until combined.

4.  Drop batter by the 1/4 cup onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.

5.  Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  While cookies are cooling, whip together until combined and fluffy:

  • 1/4 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 T. smooth peanut butter

Pipe or spread onto one cookie and top with another and serve.

(And those too-flat cookies from the first batch?  I layered them with sliced local plums and mascarpone cheese and brought it to a friends for dinner after weighting it down and letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Good – like some kind of simple trifle or riff on tiramisu.  I would have doused it with sherry or port but thought I’d leave off the alcohol as if my kids would eat it anyway.  Right.)

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Czech Plum Dumplings 4

Posted on August 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

The Vermont plums are in, and they are damned good.   So good that I find myself leaving the farmer’s market each week of their short season with far more than I really need or have plans for.  Which was what was happening a couple of weeks ago when I ran into a friend who told me about her old neighbor who made dumplings with the plums that grew in her yard.

Of course the word, “dumplings” piqued my interest.  So with quarts of plums at the ready, I went home to find a recipe.  Here’s what I found, and have so far made two batches – one to freeze for winter, and one we ate fresh with grilled sausage and a great deal of delight.

Plum Dumplings
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
The original recipe’s yield says 25, but 20 seems to be closer to the truth

1.  Peel, quarter, boil until tender and then mash:

  • 2 large or 4 small potatoes

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the plums.  Slice in half:

  • 25 prune plums (Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get 25 out of the recipe and will actually need each one.  If not, you’ve got sugary sweet plums as a snack, so it’s a low-risk situation.)

Remove each pit, and sprinkle a bit of sugar into the spot where it was.  Place plums in a bowl while you prepare the dough.

3.  Make the dough by sifting together:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. powdered lemon peel
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup mashed potato

Mix together with a wooden spoon until too hard to stir, and then knead until very smooth.

4.  Flour a cutting board well, and roll out half of the dough to 1/4″ thick.  Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out 3″ or 4″ rounds.  (Work fairly quickly so the circles don’t dry out.)  Place one round on the palm of one hand, rub the circle’s outside with a sugared plum to moisten the dough.

Stretch and seal the dough around the plum, trying your best to avoid any holes in the dough.  (If you do end up with a hole, just grab a scrap from the board and patch it.)

Repeat until all dough is used up, gathering and re-rolling as many scraps as you can.  (To freeze at this point, place in a single layer on a well-floured cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until hard, and then put in a container or bag.)

5.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and gently place dumplings in the water and boil for about 10 minutes. (Add about 4 minutes if you cook from frozen.)

6.  In a large sauce pan, melt together over medium-low heat and stir until warm and thick:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1  c. brown sugar or your favorite jam or marmalade (we were lucky to have some peach butter bubbling away on the stove and so used that)
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs to thicken if you like.

I’d like to come up with some brilliant summation here, but I’m a bit distracted as I’m here with a 5-year old here who insists it’s my birthday (it’s not) and that I have to go off to a party with Batman, a plastic dinosaur and some wooden milk.  You, on the other hand, should get yourself some plums and eat them in any way you can think of.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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