Saturday, November 2, 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Scratch (better than starbucks)

You will fall in love with this American Autumn classic. But please be warned, you will never be able to drink the store version again!

Yield:  one serving
Time:  5 min

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree per serving
1 portion/shot espresso
3/4 cup milk per serving 

1/4 tsp ginger per serving
1/4 tsp cinnamon per serving                 OR                3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice per serving
pinch of ground nutmeg, all spice, cloves 

1/4 tsp vanilla extract per serving

Prepare espresso, pour into cups and set aside
In a small saucepan add milk, pumpkin puree,  and spices and stir till combined
Warm over medium heat until milk comes to a gentle boil
Through a very fine sieve, pour into espresso filled cups, top with freshly grated nutmeg and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can add espresso and heated milk mixture to a french press, press and enjoy (eliminating the need for a sieve - this method works especially well if you are making many servings)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch

Fall in Istanbul means pumpkin sellers on most street corners selling ready-to-cook pumpkin chunks, by the kilo. Come October,  my freezer is full of pre-measured bags of pumpkin puree waiting to be turned into pie or cheesecake.

Top this pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream or slightly sweetened sour cream for an extra special touch.

Or, for a delicious gluten free dessert, substute GF cookies/biscuits in the crust!

Yield:  one 9" pie
Time:  45 min

For the crust
1 package of vanilla wafers or graham crackers for added spice
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup roasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans) (optional)

For the filling
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 whole eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Prepare the pumpkin puree according to this recipe
Cool before use or at least bring to room tempature

Prepare the crust:
Melt butter in a small pot
In the bowl of a food processer, finely grind the nuts
Add cookie package and pulse until grinded finely, free of chunks
Transfer to mixing bowl add butter slowly while whisking
Transfer mixture to a buttered pie dish and pack firmly using fist or back of spoon
Set aside

To prepare the filling:
In a mixing bowl add pumpkin puree and sugar, mix slowly until incorporated
Slowly add cream then eggs 1 at a time while beating slowly
Then add spices and let mix for 30 seconds on slow until well incorporated
Careful not to overbeat as this will create unwanted air bubbles
Pour into crust

Filled Pumpkin Pie Ready to be Baked

Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325 f for about 25-35 minutes, until edges firm and the middle is slightly jiggly

Cool or chill before serving

Topped with Fresh Sweetened Whipped Cream with Sprinkles of Freshly Grated Nutmed

Friday, February 1, 2013

Creme Caramel Flan Recipe

Here is a dessert that takes very little time and effort but looks and tastes spectacular.  Flan is a simple egg custard baked in a water bath with golden amber caramelized sugar.

Yield:  6 servings
Time:  20 minutes plus time to cool and chill (+2 hours)

4 cups whole milk

4 eggs plus 2 yolks
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Fill a kettle of water and start on the oven to boil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange 6 glass ramekins or metal forms of your choosing (about 6-8 ounce sized) in a roasting pan and set aside. 

In pour 4 cups of milk (1 liter) into a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In the mean time, in a small sauce pan, mix together 1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water. Simmer over medium heat until mixture has turned a dark amber color.  This will take about 10-15 minutes. Do not stir but check every couple of minutes. Once the mixture starts to brown, it will turn dark brown fast so do not forget to check often. 

While both are cooking on stove top, in a large bowl, whisk together 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, 4 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. After the milk has boiled for 10 minutes slowly starting with a half a ladle at a time, add the milk to the egg mixture while whisking. After about 3 half ladles add the milk a full ladle at a time until all milk has been incorporated into the mixture. 

By this time the sugar should be close to or already dark in color. Divide the mixture between the 6 ramekins.

Using a ladle, divide the egg and milk mixture between the 6 ramekins, slowly pouring directly on top of the caramel. 

Fill the roasting pan with boiling water (careful not to get any water in the ramekins) until the ramekins are covered half way in water. Gently, place pan in oven and bake for about 15-25 minutes, until the center is slightly giggly when shaken but still slightly firm to the touch. 

Remove from oven and let cool on the counter. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled or at least 2 hours.

To serve, run a toothpick around the outside of the ramekin to loosen up any skin that has formed.
Place serving plate on top of ramekin and flip over, tapping bottom of ramekin until the insides have popped out onto the plate.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Mint Cookies Recipe Thin Mints Grasshoppers

Where we live, Thin Mints and Grasshoppers are not easy to come by. This recipe was born out of desire and necessity =) and the results are mind bogglingly better than the original, as in our version, the chocolate cover is thicker and really adds a nice contrast to the crispy mint interior.

Yield:  about 2 dozen medium cookies
Time:  1 hour

12 tbsp butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

8 oz of your favorite high quality chocolate (dark, milk or white) for dipping
1/2 tbsp butter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy
Add egg, peppermint and vanilla extract and mix until combined
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt
Add to mixer in three parts and mix until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky)
With the help of a sturdy rubber spatula, scrape out dough and form into 2 balls
Wrap with plastic and chill in refrigerator for a least an hour or overnight
On a well flour surface, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and stamp with your favorite cutters
Bake at 350f (180c) for about 10 minutes or until the cookie tops are dry to the touch
Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to baking rack to cool completely

While cooling prepare chocolate dip
In a bain-marie (double boiler) over warm water until simmering
If chocolate comes in a block cut up into small pieces and add to bain-marie
Stir until chocolate starts melting
Add butter and stir until all the chocolate melts
Remove from heat and drop cookies in one at a time (working quickly) covering both sides then remove and let cool on wax paper covered baking sheets or plates

Store cookies in an airtight container between layers of wax paper until ready to serve

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies Recipe

These cream cheese infused sugar cookies are so special. The unexpected flavor of cream cheese is such a great surprise. Add a quarter tsp of cinnamon or nutmeg to really kick start the holiday flavor. 

Yield:  about 2 dozen medium cookies
Time:  25 min

1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
6 tbsp cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy
Add egg yolk, vanilla extract
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
Add to mixer in three parts and mix until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky)
With the help of a sturdy rubber spatula, scrape out dough and form into 2 balls
Wrap with plastic and chill in refrigerator for a least an hour or overnight
On a well flour surface, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and stamp with your favorite cutters
Bake at 375f (190c) for about 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown

cream cheese christmas sugar cookies

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Blog: Spicy Gingerbread Man Cookies Recipe

We recently came across our guest blogger after posting online some wonderful pictures of his freshly baked gingerbread man cookies. He kindly accepted sharing his recipe with our readers and we are glad to present these to you today.  Thank you Steve for sharing your delicious recipe and beautiful pictures. 

From our guest blogger...
One of my favorite Christmas memories from childhood is spending hours in the kitchen each year, mixing, rolling, cutting, forming, baking, cooling, and then finally icing our traditional family cookies. While this spicy gingerbread cookie was not usually on our Christmas baking list, I love it because it combines the warm flavors of some of my favorite seasonal spices with the whimsical gingerbread boy figure loved by children everywhere. They are finished with a simple white piping that adds a touch of elegance and invites each cookie to take on a personality of its own.

Click below to view the recipe and additional pictures

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chewy Rich Real Chocolate Brownies Recipe

We were inspired to make these while making Chocolate Lava Cake. Why are there so many brownie recipes with only cocoa powder? We added cocoa powder to the melted chocolate to make them richer and the simplicity of the ingredients really make these brownies stand out. The secret to really chewy gooey brownies is to undercook them slightly.

Yield:  8"x8" or 9"x13" pan of brownies
Time:  1 hour

3/4 cup flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

8 oz high quality dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 f  (180 c) and butter your pan or line with parchment paper
One bowl method:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie (hot water bath) and whisk until smooth
Remove from bain-marie
Stir in sugar and incorporate well using whisk
Let rest momentarily while mixing together in a separate bowl the flour cocoa powder and salt
Add vanilla to chocolate-butter mixture and whisk
Add eggs one at a time and whisk well
Add the flour mixture (heaping soup spoon at a time) and mix just until incorporated
Pour into pan and spread around evenly using a spatula
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean
Start checking at the 35 minute mark and check every 5 minutes
Do not over-cook (unless you like them crispy)
Let brownies cool completely in pan before removing and cutting


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