Sunday, November 30, 2008

Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apple

I remember my first experience with a pomegranate quite clearly. I was about seven and my mom had gotten a couple pomegranate's from the store. My younger sister and I were very intrigued by this new fruit. Mom told us that inside a pomegranates were hundreds of seeds that looked like rubies that would popped when you bit them. So with this introduction, of course we couldn't wait to try a pomegranate.
After warning us the juice would stain our clothes, she cut open a pomegranate, gave us each a half and sent us out to the porch to eat it. She was right. The seeds did look like rubies! (I still think they look like little gems.) Anyway, I still remember biting into those ruby red seeds for the first time. I carefully picked each one out of the pith and bit it, the juice running down and staining my fingers. I'm sure our shirts were ruined but it was love a first bite.
When I heard that POM had a recipe contest open to blogger's, I couldn't wait to join in! I decided to make something festive. In the past I'd made an apple pomegranate crisp and I really like the combo of the apples and pomegranates. I thought I'd take that idea and combine it with one of my party favorites, baked brie.

Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apple
1 8 ounce wheel of brie
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1 POM Pomegranate, opened and seeds or arils removed (Click here for instructions on opening a pomegranate.)
1 TBS butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamon
pinch salt
1 tsp bourbon

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water: for egg wash.

In a pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Cook for until apples begin to soften about 5-7 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook about a minute more. Remove from heat, stir in half of the pomegranate and let cool to room temp. reserve the rest of pomegranate for garnish.
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.

With a sharp knife, cut the cheese in half horizontally. On a clean work surface, place one half of the cheese, sliced side up, and evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pomegranate apple mixture over it. Set the other half, sliced side down, over the pomegranate apple mixture and spread other half over the top.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and set the cheese in the center of the dough. Fold the dough up over the sides of the cheese, pleating the upper edges to fit snugly around the cheese. Pinch the dough together in the center to seal. Brush the dough evenly with the egg wash and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the pastry is golden all over and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and sprinkle remaining pomegranates over baked brie. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

And what goes better with brie than a PomPom -champagne with a splash of pomegranate juice. Perfect!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Burnt Caramel Cake

I was excited about this month's daring baker's challenge. I love caramel cake but I was worried that I may not have time to squeeze in the challenge this month. I'm really glad I did because this is a really good dense cake. I didn't have the right size pan so I made mine in an 8 inch cake pan. It made a thicker cake so I had to cook it about 6 minutes longer. After my cake cooled, I split the cake into two and put the frosting in the middle as well. I added sea salt to the frosting which really complimented the burnt sugar flavor.
This was a fun challenge and I loved the finished cake!
Thanks to our hostessShuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, for sharing her signature cake recipe! The recipe can be found here . Helping to host this month's challenge as well are, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and for all your gluten free questions, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go. Check out all the other DB'rs cakes here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All in One Holiday Bundt Cake with Sugared Cranberries

I made Dori Greenspan's all-in-one holiday bundt cake for the first time this week. It's the perfect cake for this time of year. This cake is filled with cranberries, nuts, apple,and pumpkin. Sounds great right! Then you add a maple glaze. Yummm! That's pretty much all the holiday flavors packed into one delicious cake.
To make it even more festive, I topped the cake with some of the sugared cranberries I had leftover from the ICE cupcake cranberry challenge.
I thought this would be the perfect entry for this month Sugar High Friday. Sugar High Fridays started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. This month's host is Susan atThe Well Seasoned Cook and the theme is: All that Glitters. Perfect because these cranberries just sparkle like little gems. Check out all the other glitter holiday desserts on here.

All-In_One Holiday Bundt Cake
Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
(makes one 9- to 10-inch Bundt cake)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoon/5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Optional: Maple syrup icing (see recipe below)

To make the cake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (about 12-cup) Bundt pan. Do not place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to come up through the Bundt pan's open core.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside dry ingredients.

Working with a stand mixer (using a paddle attachment, if you have one), beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition; beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin and apples - don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour is just barely incorporated. Working with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the cranberries and pecans.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Slide the pan into the oven and bake 60 to 70 minutes at 350F, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature on the rack. Drizzle with maple syrup glaze.

Maple syrup glaze:
Sift 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup. Add more maple syrup little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of a spoon - you might need another 1/2 tablespoon to get the right consistency. Put the cooled cake on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and drizzle with the glaze. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Spread

A couple of weeks ago I made Autumn Pumpkin muffins. The original recipe said it made two regular size loaves. So I decided to make half the batter into muffins and the rest I put into a loaf pan. I ended up freezing the loaf which came in handy this week when I needed a quick dessert to take to my book club. It came out of the freeze as wonderful as the day I made it. I'm always a little sceptical about freezing baked goods. Sometimes they just aren't the same, but no worries with this bread!
Although the pumpkin bread is great on it's own, I thought I'd make it even better by making a cream cheese spread to go with it. After all I was taking it to book club, which is all about food and wine...ohh and the book, right it's about the book. I mean were not just a group of gals that like to eat, drink, and gossip. We read too!!
The pumpkin bread is packed with spices and nuts so I thought maple syrup would be the perfect compliment. I grabbed a few spices, the maple syrup, and brown sugar and threw it into some soften cream cheese. I tasted the mixture and it was really good but needed just a little something else. I put a bit of vanilla in and as I was putting the vanilla away I spied my bottle of bourbon. I thought "Why not!" I mean maple and bourbon, that just sounds awesome. Oh and yes I keep a small bottle (well a fifth) of bourbon in with my spices and flavorings. Hubs calls it my secret stash. I guess I use it a lot...well we do live in the South. I've really come to appreciate the flavor that bourbon can add to a dish. Bourbon is aged in barrels that have been charred. The bourbon picks up a smokey flavor from the barrels that is wonderful in everything from pork dishes to pecan pie. However, despite what Hubs thinks, I don't drink it straight from the bottle! Not yet anyway;)

Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Spread

6 ounces cream cheese at room temp.
3 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
11/2 tsp Bourbon
Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

This spread is great on bagels too!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ode to Fall Cupcakes

Fall here in the south has been really beautiful this year. Some years we don't get much in the way of fall color but this fall has been perfect. The early cold snap has lit the trees with glorious colors. I love walking in our neighborhood to the sound of acorns crunching underfoot and all the lawns covered in a patchwork of fallen leaves. It's so pretty. I wish that the color would hang around longer, but it's nearly gone.
So here's my ode to fall in the form of a cupcake! The cupcakes are pumpkin with pecans and dried cranberries. Then I frosted them with a rich chocolate frosting and topped with some sugared cranberries.

Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Cupcakes

source : Shelly Kaldunski adapted

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 lg eggs at room temp.
1/2 cup, pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the flour mixture and whisk to combine completely. Stir in the pecans and cranberries.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 22-24 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool about 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before frosting.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Sift the cocoa powder together with the powdered sugar. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

This is my submission to this month's Iron Cupcake Earth Challenge: Cranberries. Click here to see all the great prizes up for grabs! There's some really cool stuff this month!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie

My pumpkin obsession goes on! Can you improve on the traditional pumpkin pie? That's debatable. I really love your basic pumpkin pie so I'm always sceptical of new pumpkin pie recipes.

When this month's Bon Appetit arrived, it was full of all kinds of Thanksgiving recipes. One of them was for Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie. I saw the pie but didn't pay much attention to the recipe. Hubs picked up the Bon Appetit a couple days later as he was asking what we were having for dinner (at around 2:00 pm!). I said I wasn't sure. So he let the Bon Appetit fall open and pointed to the page and said "Make this". This happens a lot at our house. He thinks it's funny. Luckily for him, I'm still just happy he's home after being deployed for nearly a year.
Anyway he landed on the dessert recipes. By the way pumpkin pie is a favorite of his as well. So when he saw the picture for Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie, he said I had to make this sometime. He pointed out that the recipe called for Scotch. This made the recipe all the more interesting to him! I had made Dori Greenspan's Real Butterscotch Pudding while he was deployed, and it was fantastic. I promised to make this pie sometime, although not right then and not for dinner!
We had a few friends over for dinner this past week-end, and I made the pie for dessert. Everyone raved! It's a bit more involved to make than your average pumpkin pie, so plan ahead.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Scotch
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Whipped cream:
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch

For crust:Mix flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until very coarse meal forms. Add 3 tablespoons ice water; using on/off turns, process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if too dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap and chill 1 hour.
Roll out dough to 12-to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp decoratively. Chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line crust with sheet of foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil with beans. Bake until just beginning to turn golden brown, piercing with fork if bubbles form, about 15 minutes longer. Cool completely.

For filling:Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, and salt in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Scotch, then cream (mixture will bubble vigorously) and whisk until smooth. Return to medium heat and stir until most caramel bits dissolve. Strain butterscotch mixture into small bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Whisk remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and pumpkin in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then spices. Add reserved butterscotch mixture; whisk to blend.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour filling into crust. Bake until just set, about 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store at room temperature.
For whipped cream:Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and Scotch in medium bowl until peaks form.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk if necessary before serving.
Cut pie into wedges. Serve with dollop of whipped cream

Our table for our dinner party (a late birthday celebration for Hubs) turned out so pretty I just had to share a couple pictures!