Monday, December 22, 2008

pumpkin cream pie

the goods:

1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Make crust: In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together (add up to 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time to receive desired consistency). Don't overmix. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch thick disk. Refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
On a floured work surface, roll dough to a 14-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim, and press to seal. Crimp rim of crust.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Press aluminum foil onto crust, draping over rim of pie plate. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until edge of crust is firm, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil; let crust cool completely, and set aside.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Make filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; whisk in cream.

Pour mixture into cooled crust.

Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is set, about 1 hour.

Let cool on a wire rack, 1 hour; refrigerate to cool completely, 2 hours or up to overnight.

Make topping: Place 3 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan; sprinkle with gelatin, and let soften, about 5 minutes. Place pan over very low heat; stir until gelatin dissolves. Let cool slightly. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar until very soft peaks form. While beating, slowly add gelatin mixture; continue to beat until soft peaks form.

With a rubber spatula, mound topping in center of chilled pie. Refrigerate at least 1 hour more.

Sprinkle with more cinnamon before serving.

Monday, December 15, 2008

whoopie pies

the goods:

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and applesauce, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until smooth (do not overmix).

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake until toothpick inserted at center of cookie comes out clean, 10 to 14 minutes. With a thin metal spatula, immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make filling: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat vanilla and remaining 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread bottom half of cookies with 1 tablespoon filling each; sandwich with a cookie similar in size. Let rest 15 minutes to set.

Monday, December 8, 2008

dark-chocolate cake with ganache frosting

the goods:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound (16 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

While cake is baking, make ganache. In a heavy saucepan, bring heavy cream, confectioners' sugar and salt to a boil. Remove from heat; add bittersweet chocolate, and let stand, without stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk just until combined. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 1 hour.

Remove cakes from oven, cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place one cake on serving platter. Place pieces of parchment or wax paper beneath edges of cake to protect platter from frosting.

Spread top of cake with 1/3 of the ganache.

Place second cake on top, and spread with remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Slide parchment pieces out from under cake to reveal a clean platter!

Slice and serve with a tall glass of milk!