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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Becca’s Book, Serial #16 and Pumpkin Truffles

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Pumpkin Truffles–you probably didn’t expect to hear those two words placed together. Truth is, neither did we. I mean, exactly what does that earthy and healthy orange round thing we carve up at Halloween and sometimes (O.K.–all the time) turn into a pie at Thanksgiving got to do with the sinfully rich and over-the-top yummy round dessert bombs?

Well, if you take a little time and patience and follow this recipe–EVERYTHING! You simply won’t believe how rich and delicious and unique these treats are. But let us warn you up front–the recipe is more involved and time-consuming than the recipes we normally post. But it’s worth it! And your guests or friends or significant other or just yourself and the stuffed animal lying beside you on the couch will LOVE you for this special reward–at the end of the holiday meal or the end of holiday weekend or just a not so little pick-me-up for making it through all the traffic and crowds as we begin that “most wonderful time of the year” (don’t you already hate the canned Christmas carols?).

And this special treat is also in recognition of the last chapter of Becca’s Book. Whether you’ve been following from the start or this is your first visit, take a look or listen to “Serial #16” below as you nibble on that pumpkin truffle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

pumpkin_truffle

Pumpkin Truffles

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs, plus 1-2 Tablespoons more to top the truffles

1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

5 ounces white chocolate chips or vanilla almond bark

optional: 1-2 Tablespoons cream

pumpkin_truffles

Before you make these truffles, you must prepare the pumpkin puree by draining it of excess liquid. You can do this one of two ways: 1) place pumpkin in a strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth, put the strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid, and place in refrigerator overnight, OR 2) layer three or four paper towels on a baking sheet, spread pumpkin puree into a thin, even layer over paper towels, top with another three or four paper towels, and lightly press to absorb liquid out of pumpkin. (Refer to this blog post to see pictures of the latter method.)

Once pumpkin puree is drained of excess liquid, add it to a food processor, along with 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs, powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cream cheese. Pulse until smooth. Add the half cup of melted white chocolate to food processor; process until all ingredients are blended together and form a smooth mixture. Pour truffle batter into a shallow dish and place in freezer for an hour, or until mixture is firm enough to shape into balls.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop truffles into 1 ounce balls (about 1 1/2 inch diameter), place on parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and put back into freezer for 30 minutes, or until ready to coat.

To make the topping for the truffles, place 5 ounces of white chocolate in the bowl of a double-boiler. Pour about an inch of water in a pot, bring to a simmer, and put double boiler bowl on top. Stir the chocolate until it’s melted. If the mixture appears too thick, add a little of the cream until you get the correct consistency (you want the chocolate to be smooth and melted, avoiding a thick and clumpy or thin and runny mixture).

To coat the truffles, place one truffle on a fork. Hold truffle over melted chocolate, spooning melted chocolate over truffle until it’s fully covered. Return truffle to parchment paper by carefully pushing the truffle off of the fork with a spoon or toothpick.* Sprinkle top of truffle with gingersnap crumbs. Repeat for remaining truffles. Chill the truffles in the refrigerator until set, or about an hour. You can store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or freeze for a month.

*If you want an extra thick coating, coat each truffle with white chocolate, place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and put in freezer for about 30-45 minutes to set. Once truffles are set and chocolate is hardened, you can repeat the coating process, sprinkling with gingersnap crumbs after the second coating.

Makes about 10 truffles.

pumpkin_truffles 2

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #16, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #16, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #16, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #15 and Grammy’s Swedish Cream

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Some of life’s greatest pleasures are also its simplest and subtlest (I think that’s a word) and oldest (I know that is).

Now I could be talking about a lot of things, but seeing as this is a blog titled “Reading and Recipes” I’m probably talking about either a story or a recipe. And, come to think of it, I guess I’m talking about both.

But I started out talking about this week’s recipe. So let me finish what I started before moving on to the story.

There are lots of showstopper desserts out there, knock your socks off (who ever thought of that saying?) rich or tangy or decadent treats–an infinite array. And some of those desserts have made it onto this blog. But when it comes down to simple pleasure and elemental satisfaction, I’ll take this Swedish Cream over any of that glitz and fanfare. First of all, it’s EASY to make, all from ingredients most of us have in our kitchen right now. Secondly, both its flavor and texture are delicate and light, seem to hearken back to a simpler era.

And that’s the best part–it does hearken back to a simpler era! Handed down from great-great-grandma (cooking on a wood-fueled stove) to great-grandma to grandma to dad (how’d he get in the mix?), this is surely the oldest authentic recipe on this website (we even had to change the butter amount from “butter the size of a hickory nut” to “one tablespoon of butter”–but feel free to put in a scoop of butter the size of a hickory nut if you can find a hickory nut somewhere). So let’s just call it Grammy’s Swedish Cream and smile as we nod agreement–some of life’s greatest pleasures are its simplest and subtlest and oldest.

And the same can be said of our serialized story, Becca’s Book, as it nears its conclusion. There’s just one more serial after this one–check it out on Thanksgiving Day (if we’re not too stuffed to get off the couch and post it). Becca’s Book is an old-fashioned romance written as a memoir–no glitz, no original style or shocking plot twists or surprise endings: just a love story, plain and simple. But maybe life’s greatest pleasures are found in its simplest gifts with this story also. Take a look or listen by clicking the links below the cover to see if you agree.

swedish cream

Grammy’s Swedish Cream

2 cups whole milk

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cooked pudding

Add the whole milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks to a heavy sauce pan. Whisk the ingredients together. Slowly heat the ingredients oven medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to simmer. Remove the thickened pudding from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until fully incorporated. Pour the pudding into serving cups. Cover* the pudding and place in refrigerator to chill. Serve pudding cold as is or with fruit, cookies, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or other garnishes.

*If you don’t want the pudding to develop a skin, place plastic wrap directly on pudding surface.

Makes 2-4 servings.

caramel swedish cream

{With a drizzle of caramel sauce. Yum!}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #15, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #15, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #15, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #14 and Pumpkin-Cinnamon Cupcakes with Cinnamon Yogurt Frosting

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You know–you come home from work after a hard day, you’re feeling kind of tired, kind of blah. And you just want to bake something. Chocolate, right? Nah–too predictable. Might as well pull out the vodka bottle as bake something with chocolate in it, complete with its exercise in self-indulgence and escapism.

So what to do?

Well, you start from scratch, picking out ingredients that are both homey AND exotic. Are you with me so far? You recall that it’s November, so you’ve got to pick pumpkin as a key ingredient. I mean, pumpkin is November’s middle name, right? (Not sure what November’s last name is, but that’s for another time.) So we’ve got pumpkin as the core ingredient. Now we have to liven this old standby up. How about cinnamon? That’ll do it. A pumpkin-cinnamon cupcake–a taste of home and the orient. Works for me.

But wait a minute. It’s been a really bad day. That pumpkin-cinnamon cupcake by itself would work for most days, but you need just a little bit more, something to boost that cupcake and your spirits up off the floor. Chocolate! Nope, we’re not going to go there. Remember–self-control, not self-indulgence.

Oh, all right. Let’s look and see what we’ve got in the fridge. There’s a tub of yogurt. That’s healthy and wholesome; but on a pumpkin-cinnamon cupcake, it’s also a touch exotic, a flair for the unusual. Let’s give it a try. And we still have the cinnamon out of the cupboard from making the cupcake, so let’s boost the yogurt frosting and also reference the cinnamon in the cupcake. Now you’re talking! A pumpkin-cinnamon cupcake with cinnamon yogurt frosting–you’ve created something brand new AND given your blah day a golden sunset. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

(Hey, I’m still stuck back at the beginning trying to figure out what’s wrong with the self-indulgence of chocolate?)

pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon frosting

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Cupcakes

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of ground nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg yolk

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pumpkin cupcakes

Cinnamon Yogurt Frosting

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 Tablespoons vanilla greek yogurt (low-fat or nonfat), room temperature

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar

pumpkin cupcake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 muffin cups with paper liners, and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients (flour through ground nutmeg) together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, add the pumpkin puree, egg yolk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat these ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and slowly mix until evenly distributed and batter is smooth.

Fill paper liners about 3/4 full with cupcake batter. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool in muffin pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

As cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Add the butter and yogurt to a mixing bowl and whisk until completely combined and no lumps remain. To this mixture, add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt and mix ingredients together. Lastly, add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes to thicken. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Makes 3 cupcakes.

bite of cupcake

{Adapted from Savor Home}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #14, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #14, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #14, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #13 and Trail Mix Blondies

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Sometimes you just need wholesome food for the journey, whether that journey is a long day at work or the five-hour drive to a weekend getaway in the mountains or a hike in those mountains–or a night in front of the T.V. or listening to Becca’s Book, Serial #12.

Whatever your journey may be, these Trail Mix Blondies will keep your stomach from growling while filling it with all kinds of healthy nutrition and tasting yum-yum good to boot. And maybe the best part of all is that these Blondies are easy and quick to make and oh so versatile, allowing you to use your favorite nuts and dried fruit or simply throw in whatever combination is available in your baking cupboard.

So give this Trail Mix a try, even if the only trail you’ll be hitting is a dvd rental of City Slickers or a download of the story “Wyoming,” posted on this website months ago and available in the Stories index.

Whatever the journey, these Trail Mix Blondies will get you there in good shape.

craisin blondies

Trail Mix Blondies

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/3 cup dried fruit (I used craisins)*

1/3 cup finely diced nuts (I used walnuts)*

craisin walnut blondies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray eight muffin cups in a muffin pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

Add the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Add the egg yolk and mix until incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the butter mixture. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined; the batter will be very thick. Fold in the dried fruit and nuts until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Divide the batter between the eight prepared muffin cups, pressing evenly into each cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just turning a golden brown. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before gently removing the blondies from the pan. (I ran a knife around the edges and gently loosened the blondies from the pan.) Completely cool the blondies on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 8 blondies.

*If you don’t want to use craisins or walnuts, you can use whatever combination of nuts/dried fruit/chocolate chips that you prefer. Just make sure to add a total of 2/3 cups of add-ins of your choosing. 

blondies

{Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #13, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #13, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #13, text © Jeffrey Anderson