Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Meal Enders: Desserts

Oh, the final hoorah for the daunting meal. Desserts. A sweet way to end a hopefully enjoyable, food and family focused day. A good, happy and polite, way to say: “this is the end and get out so I can clean up…”. We have tried to focus, in all of the courses, on seasonal foods, things that are readily available this time of year so that you can stay in touch with your surroundings and your community. After all, that is what this day should be about. Gathering together, sharing time together, around a table filled with good for you food, surrounded by the people you love, eating and communing, thinking of and expressing what you might be thankful for. Supporting those who work hard to bring us the food we enjoy. Challenging yourself with cooking new things and cooking for a crowd. Knowing that you have done your part in sustaining a healthful food system and sharing it with others, who hopefully will appreciate your message and carry it through, in whatever way, be it small or large, in their own lives and talk about it with their friends. Spreading awareness is our job and food is our vehicle. Please enjoy these recipes and your experience on this day. Peace.
We have a few new recipes for you to try and some that we have posted in the past that would be good options for your final course. We had posted a blog on crème fraiche a while back with some suggestions on what to do with leftover buttermilk and I promised a Buttermilk Pie. Here it is! You will love this and it can be super easy. You can garnish it however you wish; I would suggest fresh whipped cream or powdered sugar and maybe some pomegranate seeds. We also have a Pumpkin Cheesecake, which is delightful, and I gave instructions on how to cook in many different sizes depending on how you would like to serve. And we also have the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tart from our Derby Day post and yummy Farm Apple Cake from our Apple post. Oh, and don’t forget if you aren’t cranberried out you can serve the Cranberry Relish 3 Ways over some vanilla ice cream!
Here are some tips from for a Slow Food Thanksgiving: tips.
Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
Buttermilk Pie - 1, 9-inch pie, serves 8
Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
8 tablespoons butter, very cold and cut into cubes
2-4 tablespoons ice water
*Note: you can totally use a store bough piecrust here…no harm no foul!
1 cup natural cane sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt

To make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, salt and zest. Add the cubes of butter and pulse to combine, until it looks crumbly. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing to combine, until the dough holds together when pinched in your fingers. Remove from the food processor and form into a disk. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for about an hour. Then roll out the dough into an 11 inch circle, place in a 9 inch pie dish.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
To make the filling:  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients using a whisk until smooth. Pour into the pie shell and bake on a lower rack for 25 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake another 15 minutes or until the pie looks browned on top but still a little jiggly in the center.
Allow to cool completely before slicing. Serve with fresh whipped cream, a sprinkling of powdered sugar or any in season fruit.

Pumpkin Cheesecakes - Serves 12
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 pinch of salt
For the filling:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons flour
4 eggs plus 1 yolk
16 ounces pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat your oven (see instructions below). Mix the graham crackers, butter, sugar and salt together until well combined. Press the crust evenly in the bottom of the pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour on medium speed until well combined. Turn the speed down to low and add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, allowing each one to be incorporated before adding the next. Add the pumpkin, cream, vanilla and spices beating just until everything is evenly mixed.
For a 9-inch cheesecake: * Note: I use a spring form pan that I line with parchment paper to ensure my cake comes out. This method of cooking does not require a water bath.
 Bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes then lower the temperature to 250°F and bake for about 1 hour or until the center of the cake is a little jiggly but no longer looks wet. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to stay in the oven for another 30-45 minutes until it seems mostly set. Allow to cool at room temperature then refrigerate overnight before serving. To cut, dip your knife in hot water to make the slices and wipe off blade in between each slice.
For “Jumbo” muffin tin cakes: * Note: I use jumbo muffin tins lined with papers…this is the perfect, satisfying serving. Yields: 12
Bake at 300°F for 20-22 minutes then turn the oven off and allow to remain in the oven with the door ajar for about 10 minutes more. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate over night before serving.
For “Standard” muffin tin cakes: *Note: I use standard muffin lined with cupcake papers. Yields: 24
Bake at 300°F for 15 minutes then turn the oven off and allow to remain in the oven with the door ajar for about 10 minutes more. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate over night before serving.
For “Mini” muffin tin cakes: *Note: I use mini muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. These are perfect for an hors d’oeuvres party!
Bake at 300°F for 10 minutes then turn the oven off and allow to remain in the oven with the door ajar for about 5 minutes more. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate over night before serving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tart - Serves 8
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4, 1 stick of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons-1/4 cup ice water
flour for rolling

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 egg
8 ounces whole pecans, toasted

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter chunks and pulse about 15 times or until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. With the food processor running add just enough ice water to pull the dough together.  The best way to test this is to squeeze a small amount between your fingers and if it sticks together  it is good.  It will still seem dry.  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and turn the dough out onto it. Form into a disk shape, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a 9 inch tart pan cutting away any excess dough. Dock bottom and sides of the dough with a fork and bake until it just starts to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Turn oven down to 375.

In a medium sauce pan heat heavy cream  to a bare simmer.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, thoroughly whisk in the egg.  Pour into cooled tart shell.  Starting at the outside edge place the toasted pecans in concentric circles onto of the chocolate filling (if you don't have the patience for this, roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle evenly over the top). Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.  The center will be slightly jiggly.  Allow to cool before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To toast pecans: place nuts in a dry saute pan and toast over medium heat until they start to brown and become fragrant, tossing frequently. Do not, I repeat do not walk away from them they will burn!

Farm Apple Cake with Maple Glaze - Serves 10-12

For the cake:

6 ounces butter, room temperature

½ cup natural cane sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ pounds apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped, optional
For the glaze:
¼ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped, optional

Heat an oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup, and vanilla. With the mixer on low slowly add the wet mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Combine all of the dry ingredients (through nutmeg) together in yet another bowl and add in batches to the wet mixture. Scrape down the bowl then fold in the apples and nuts if using. Evenly spread into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about an hour or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove to a rack and allow to cool more while you make the glaze.

Combine the butter, syrup, and cream in a medium bowl. Using a fine sieve, sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and whisk to combine until smooth. Stir in the pecans if using. Allow to cool before you glaze the cake with it.

3 Way Cranberry Relish  - Makes about 2 1/2 cups
1, 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 5 oranges)
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

In a medium saucepan combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, honey, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds.

Serving suggestions:
1. Over a wheel of Brie with some crackers as an appetizer
2. Simple as a side with the main meal
3. Spooned over some vanilla ice cream with short bread cookies

Wine Paring:  For the savory versions go for Pinot Noir, for that sweet vanilla ice cream try a Pedro Ximenes Sherry from Spain- even drizzle a little of it on top for an adult version of your dessert.

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