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Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

The February/March Cook the Books reading selection, Dinner with Edward, inspired my mini strawberry chocolate galettes.  Dinner with Edward, by Isabel Vincent, is a charmer.  It’s a quick read, filled to the brim with amazing food stories, menus, and inspiration.  But the heart of the book is the relationship between Edward, a retired gentleman whose wife recently died, and Isabel, a younger woman who goes through major life upheaval in the course of the book.  It’s a book about friendship and food, both of which cut across generations.  I really thought this one was, well, charming.

And so much food to choose from for inspiration (as you can see from my very sticky-noted copy)!  I initially couldn’t decide if I was going to try one of Edward’s potato recipes, or steak, or soup, or soufflé, or martinis, or chicken, or fish, or pork.  What I eventually landed on was being inspired by the apple galette that shows up around chapter three.  Strawberries are slowly making their way into season (as spring seems to finally be peaking around the corner here in the PNW).  I decided to aim for a version of the galette using butter instead of Edward’s recommended lard, and go for flavors that I love to share with friends.  Thus, I ended up with a dozen perfect mini strawberry chocolate galettes that my husband and I have been munching on all week long.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

These mini strawberry chocolate galettes would make a great Easter dessert.  They’d also be delightful as the final course for a picnic.  You can substitute other berries for sure – I’m definitely going to be making these again when raspberries are in season.  Galettes take all the loveliness of a pie and make it into a rustic, easy to make and bake treat.  They are completely free form, so all you have to do is make the pastry, roll it out, fill and bake.  I added a touch of dark chocolate and some sugar macerated strawberries and called it delightful.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Oh – and I’ll confess.  I did end up making a dry martini the way it was suggested in the book.  I think it may be the best martini I’ve ever had in my life.  If you are curious, check out either the book (which I highly recommend) or take a peek at my Instagram feed where there’s a photo of the martini and tips on how to make it.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Ingredients

    For the Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • For the Filling
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the pastry by combining the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour, using a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Add the water, a bit at a time and work into the flour/butter mix until it forms a ball. Refrigerate the pastry dough for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, combine the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside to macerate.
  4. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate chips. Roll the chilled pastry dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter or similar to cut the dough into small circles.
  6. Spoon a bit of the melted dark chocolate into the middle of each pastry dough circle. Arrange several slices of strawberries on top of each and gently fold and pinch the pastry dough up over the strawberries.
  7. Place each mini galette onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you are using an egg to wash, combine the egg with a tablespoon of water and beat until frothy. Brush the egg wash over the pastry dough for each galette.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the galettes are light brown. Enjoy!
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This recipe is linked up to March’s Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi.  Treat Petite is hosted alternative months at Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, so be sure to check out both awesome blogs!

And to Novel Foods #29

And to the March 2017 Foodie Reads

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Today is my 41st birthday, so I made myself a red wine chocolate cake to celebrate.  There’s a back-story here. Last year, I turned forty.  For months prior to this milestone, I’d contemplated baking myself a fancy cake to celebrate.  I’d just started blogging the year before, and I envisioned a perfect blog post with a beautiful cake. I’d also envisioned having a tapas party and cooking great food with friends.

Sometimes fate has other plans: what I really did last year on my fortieth birthday was work my first meeting at a new job and then drive back to our house in Southern Oregon to finish packing so we could move to Portland and I could officially start work mid-March.  I didn’t bother cooking for nearly a month, much less blog.  Clay bought a couple of really good cupcakes from a bakery near our soon to be house and we went to dinner for Italian that night.  While I was more than content to spend my fortieth this way, I started making plans for this year.

So this year, I’m 41.  First and foremost, I want to say that I really love being in my forties.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.  I feel like I’ve finally figured out who I am – I have a style that’s unique to me.  I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.  I love my work.  My relationships is steady, stable, and happy.  I started blogging as a creative outlet and have had so much fun making this my primary hobby.  I’m content having a car that’s nearly at 100,000 miles.  I know what I like and I know what I don’t.  So, yes, forty has been awesome.

Baking this red wine chocolate cake was my birthday present to me this year.  I set aside an entire day to bake and frost.  I tackled Swiss Buttercream frosting and made something that tasted like it came from a bakery.  It was an awesome experience.  I loved setting up the photo shoot and taking the pictures of this cake, too.

I love how birthday cakes can be such a symbol of love.  My favorite birthday cake when I was growing up was a cake my grandma made for me when I was a kid – and then once again when I turned 18 because I begged her to.  The cake was a bunny cake, which was several sheet cakes formed together to make a bunny, with frosted “ears” and chocolate Easter eggs for the eyes.  I could never eat the bunny head – that was just a bit too much for me.  But I loved that fluffy white frosting and cake and I loved that she made the cake just for me.  The photo in this picture was taken on my 18th birthday.  Yes – a birthday cake is special.

red wine chocolate cake

My red wine chocolate cake is a layered chocolate cake some yummy red wine to flavor.  The chocolate Swiss buttercream got covered with chocolate sprinkles on the top.  Clay helped frost – he watched what I was doing, told me that the process of frosting was a lot like spackling, and took over my spatula.  Yes – a birthday cake is about being loved.   We’ve nibbled our way through the cake all week.  (Given that do have a day job, it wasn’t actually practical to bake my cake on my birthday in the middle of the week, so I made it on Sunday, instead).

If you’ve never made a birthday cake for yourself or for others, I encourage you to do so.  It doesn’t matter how it turns out – the important thing is the act of cooking because you love someone or because you love who you are.

red wine chocolate cake

A couple of things to note about the frosting.  First, I used this recipe for Swiss buttercream and have linked it rather than trying to adapt it to suit my purposes.  It made a lovely frosting, but our kitchen was definitely too warm for this to go well on the first try.  If your buttercream turns out runny, it really does work to refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then whip it again.  I will tell you though, use a bigger bowl than you think you need.  My entire kitchen, including me and Daisy (who likes to lurk right under the counter top when I’m cooking) were covered in buttercream.  Ok – in fairness, the dog thought this was awesome, except for the part where there was buttercream on her back that she couldn’t lick off.  The other is that this recipe makes a lot of buttercream frosting.  I like a little frosting and this ended up being way too much.

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

The recipe for the cake is adapted from Liv for Cake’s Mocha Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (olive oil works for this recipe)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • Frosting of your choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out parchment paper circles to line the bottom of three 9 inch cake pans. Butter the pans (including the parchment paper) and sprinkle with cocoa powder to cover.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder. Combine all dry ingredients, from flour through salt and stir until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Add the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and wine and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Divide the cake mix between the three pans.
  4. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Frost with your favorite frosting. I used this recipe for my Swiss buttercream – but beware, this makes enough for several cakes.
  5. Serves between 8 – 16.
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This post is linked up to #CookBlogShare, hosted this week by Hijacked by Twins

Hijacked By Twins

This post is also linked to Saucy Saturdays #87.   For more great recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

blood orange vanilla bean pound cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake is my contribution to Cook the Books for January.  The December/January pick for Cook the Books was Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor.  Stir is a memoir that chronicles Jessica’s experience with having a sudden aneurysm while on a treadmill at a hotel at a conference and her subsequent surgeries, and slow recovery.  Throughout the memoir, memories of food abound and it is cooking and food that Jessica credits for helping her come back to her self after her trauma.   Jessica includes many recipes and food memories – so there was ample inspiration from the book.  I ended up with a full page of notes of all the various foods described.  But for whatever reason, the thing that stuck with me when I went back to my notes was vanilla bean pound cake.

I have to say that this wasn’t a book I particularly enjoyed reading.  It’s a well written memoir and there’s no doubt that Jessica Fechtor is an amazing woman who came through a traumatic experience and is inspirational because of her determination to get herself back on her feet, back in the kitchen, and back into life.  It’s just that her descriptions of her trauma were hard for me to read.  I don’t watch medical shows and I try to avoid books about medical anything.  So the book itself was something that definitely stretched my boundaries for what I would normally read.

Here’s the thing, though, and how this book came to be inspiration for this particular blood orange vanilla bean pound cake recipe.  I read the book over the holiday break and set it aside.  I got busy with other blogging work and other projects.  I had my notes and the general intention to make a vanilla bean pound cake and then got the idea to incorporate blood oranges in some way, as I had just received the tremendous gift of 40 pounds of blood oranges from a friend in Arizona.  I had everything planned out to make this recipe the weekend before last.  And then that Friday night, one of our much loved kitties, Grace, passed away, very unexpectedly.  She was just going on ten years old and had been with us since we found her in our garage in Tularosa, New Mexico.  When we found her, over nine years ago, she was only eight weeks old, weighed 2 ounces, and was incredibly dehydrated and sick.  I absolutely babied her – came home from work to bottle feed, kept her in a soft-sided carrier to sleep on the bed with me so I could watch her at night.  If you have pets, you know how this goes.  She wrapped her furry grey self around my heart.  Unfortunately, as a moderately feral stray, she was always tightly wound, and we are pretty sure she had either an aneurysm or a stroke.  It was positively devastating for us, our three other cats, and even for Daisy, our lab mix, who was accustomed to sharing under the bed space with Grace.

How do I tie this all to Stir and to pound cake?  Here’s how: by Sunday, I was back in the kitchen.  I don’t exactly remember what I cooked, but I know my first recipe turned out fine.  Then I decided I would try to make a blood orange vanilla bean pound cake.  I created a version of a recipe I’d found, adding in Greek yogurt and eggs and reducing the sugar and just generally trying to be my normal bad ass cooking self.  The pound cake cooked in an astonishing 30 minutes (should have taken an hour).  I knew something wasn’t quite right when one edge of it rose up to the side of the pan while the rest of it sunk low.  It was the perfect metaphor for how I was feeling.  I knew when I took it out of the oven it was an unmitigated cooking catastrophe.  I cried – but not for the pound cake.  I cried because that’s all you can do when you are on the edge of being broken, but know that healing is somewhere out there in that dark void.  I know enough about grief and trauma to know this – healing is like baking a cake.  Sometimes you look done around the edges, but the middle is still as soft as it can be.

I also knows that, at least for me (and for Jessica Fechtor as well), cooking is a great vehicle for healing.  Somehow, I felt better for that catastrophically gooey pound cake.  I could set aside the recipe, the planning, the blog calendar and just spend some time taking care of me, my husband, my other pets.  Holding those little wakes that we do for pets who have passed – remembering all the good times. In Grace’s case, the good times included dunking her favorite toy in the water dish when she was a kitten, getting super excited about Salmon Temptations, and spending lots of time at night snuggled up to my hair and kneading it.

This weekend, I tried again.  It’s a different week.  I’m better rested.  The other cats are filling in the spaces Grace left behind.  The Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake is a different recipe (no Greek yogurt – that was just a bad idea – and this time I added salt – that might have made a difference).  I’m a little more healed around the edges.  So while I have mixed feelings about the book Stir I think it’s only because I’m sometimes not so thrilled by trauma and healing and all the work it entails.  I hate being reminded of what hard work it is to heal, but then again, maybe I needed to be reminded.

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Seeds scraped out of a vanilla bean pod
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest from a blood orange
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange marmalade (or regular marmalade)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a bread pan and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until they are incorporated. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla beans and mix. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and zest and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared bread pan. Dollop the blood orange marmalade in a line down the middle of the mixture in the pan. Top with the rest of the mixture.
  4. Bake for an hour or until a skewer or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and remove from the pan. Enjoy!
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 This post has been linked to January 2017 Foodies Read.  Check out all the wonderful books about food and recipes inspired by those books!
Casa Costello
It’s also been linked to #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.  Thanks to Helen (Casa Costello) and Jenny (Mummy Mishaps) for hosting.
Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

This month’s Food ‘n Flix pick resulted in honeymoon nostalgia and these baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches.  French Kiss is a lighthearted comedy from 1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.  The basic plot of the movie is woman (Meg Ryan) loses boyfriend to another woman, goes to Paris to track him down, meets a jewel thief (Kevin Kline) along the way, and then falls in love with the jewel thief.  It’s a cute romantic comedy – the kind of thing that my husband plays video games through and mixes up with another cute romantic comedy (namely Runaway Bride) which we watched a few weeks after.

And maybe it’s because I’m equally a cynic, what I mostly thought about the movie after I finished watching it was – oh those simpler times in the 90s when a woman could safely run off with a man she barely knows after losing her passport and money to his family’s vineyard without fear of being murdered.  Just saying.  Still – what a vineyard!

My one challenge with watching movies for Food ‘n Flix is this – I watch them as a food blogger, which means I want them to slow down and focus on the food!  It’s Paris – it’s France – show me beautiful food!  There was beautiful food in this movie, just not enough of it that was up close and personal.  So my inspiration ended up being less of something in the actual movie and more of Paris itself.  What better way to celebrate Paris than with baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches?

A big part of my inspiration also came from all the memories that watching this movie brought up of Clay and my honeymoon nine years ago.  We did a two week Europe trip – starting in Paris, taking a train to Amsterdam, and then flying to Rome and then home.  My one regret, particularly from the Paris part of the trip, was that I was still a hard-core vegetarian, and even though I was drooling over every baguette with ham and cheese that Clay ate, I stuck to the baguettes with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  No – I wasn’t suffering that much.  But still, these baguettes and French Kiss sandwich are my attempt to recapture the days we spent in Paris and the glorious smells of the bakeries and the beautiful slow food that was everywhere around us.

The baguette recipe is adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I reduced the rise time without any negative impact on the taste of the baguette.  I do use a starter, which I realize adds time and the need for advanced planning to make these, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  The actual hands on time with these is minimal – 15 minutes at the most.

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

    Starter
  • ¼ teaspoon active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • All of the starter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • For the French Kiss Sandwiches (for two sandwiches)
  • 4 – 6 slices of Jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or thinly sliced ham)
  • 8 thin slices of brie cheese

Instructions

  1. Start the starter the night before. Combine all the ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and stir. This should form a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight – about 14 hours will do it, though the starter is forgiving.
  2. To make the dough
  3. Combine the warm water, the yeast, and all of the starter. Mix until the starter is mostly incorporated. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Combine to make a shaggy dough and then knead the dough for 6 minutes on a floured surface. Add a bit of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
  4. First Rise
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Second Rise
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough down (deflate it). Cover it again and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Shaping the Dough and Preparing it for Baking
  9. After the second rise, deflate the dough again and cut it into four even sections. (You can also divide it into two sections or six sections – depending on how many baguettes you want to make). Roll the sections of dough into rectangles and fold them into baguette shapes, placing the seam-side down.
  10. Place the shaped baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  11. [The baguettes may spread a bit during the final rise– so if you want more classically shaped bread, you can place the baguettes on parchment paper or a clean dishtowel and pull up a bit of parchment paper or dishtowel between each baguette to help it keep its shape. If you do this, when it’s time to bake, you’ll need to gently roll the baguettes onto a greased baking sheet.]
  12. Cover the baguettes with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 20 minutes before the end of the final rise. To get a nice crispy baguette, it helps to have a very hot oven.
  13. Once the baguettes have completed the final rise, transfer them to the baking sheet (if you need to) and then place them in the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water handy, gently spray the baguettes, being careful not to spray your oven’s element. Bake for 20 minutes or until the baguettes are a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and let the baguettes sit in the oven for 10 minutes after they are done. This helps get an even crispier texture on the outside.
  14. Let the baguettes cool for at least 30 minutes. When they are cool, to assemble a sandwich, slice the baguette in half and place the brie and jamon on the baguette. Enjoy!
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This post is also linked to to #CookBlogShare at the Easy Peasy Foodie’s site.  Check out all the great recipes!

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Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Like many American families, my family had distinct Thanksgiving traditions and rituals, particularly around food.  This mini pumpkin pies blend new traditions and old, giving a nod to healthier eating with small portion sizes, along with sharing two traditional pumpkin pie recipes from my maternal and paternal grandmothers.

As a child, I had a weird relationship with pumpkin pie.  I can remember being as young as three or four and absolutely hating pumpkin pie – I don’t know if it was the texture or the taste that was the problem, but I was not having it.  Somewhere around the age of five, though, my maternal grandmother decided to tell me that pumpkin pie was really chocolate pie.  I could buy it – the color was right, and that year, I ate pumpkin pie.  I don’t know exactly when they told me the truth, but I do know that by the time I was older, pumpkin pie was one of my favorite holiday treats.

I was very close to my maternal grandparents and less so with my paternal grandparents.  My grandma on my mom’s side was the primary Thanksgiving chef, though it was my grandfather’s responsibility to mash the potatoes and my mother usually made a pumpkin praline pie each year to contribute to the feast.  My grandma made the most perfect pie crust and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized her secret was adding in just a bit of apple vinegar to help the crust puff.  Her pumpkin pie had more sugar in it – I’ve cut the sugar down quite a bit, as too sweet is not to my taste.

The pumpkin praline pie was my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  It’s not a recipe I’ve seen widely reproduced, so I’m not sure if she got it from her mother or from a cookbook or a friend.  I do know that it is a rich, beautiful recipe that blends brown sugar, pecans, and butter in a layer under the pumpkin, giving the pumpkin a hint of nuttiness.  My paternal grandmother would make the recipe with either walnuts or pecans.  The variation with walnuts was born of thrift – pecans could be too expensive for the era in which this pie was conceived.

This year, I decided to create a homage to both grandmothers and to both my younger and older selves by making mini pumpkin pies with four variations: a pumpkin pie using my maternal grandmother’s recipe, a praline pumpkin pie using my paternal grandmother’s recipe, a chocolate pumpkin pie (for my five year old self), and an eggnog pumpkin pie to celebrate changing tastes and the fact I’m old enough to buy and add booze to my pie.   Note that if you choose to make all four variations, you’ll end up with a lot of mini pumpkin pies – each variation makes approximately 36 pies.  You can, however, take the basic pumpkin pie recipe and make three of the four variations from the one pie recipe: the basic pumpkin pie, the praline pumpkin pie, and the chocolate pumpkin pie.  Simply split the basic pumpkin pie mix into three bowls, leaving one without add-ins, adding the praline mixture to the base of one, and adding the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the third.   The really good news about the mini pumpkin pies is that they freeze beautifully and can be made in advance of Thanksgiving.  Simply let them sit in the fridge for a few hours before dinner and they will be ready in time for dessert.

pumpkin-pie-shells

pumpkin-and-eggnog-pies-prebake

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Basic Pumpkin and Pumpkin Praline

Mini Pumpkin Pies
Makes 36

Perfect Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups salted butter (if using unsalted, add ½ teaspoon salt to the dough)
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup cold water

Mix the flour and the salt (if needed).  Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour.  Using a fork, a pastry cutter, or your hands, mix the butter into the flour so that there are pea size chunks of butter throughout.  Don’t over mix.  Add the apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough starts to stick together.  Use a spoon or your hands to mix the dough until it sticks together and is manageable.  Put the dough in the fridge for two hours.

Basic Pumpkin Pie
½ can of evaporated milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until they are combined.

Split your dough into 36 small balls of roughly the same size. Flatten each out and either roll or stretch until they are large enough to fill a mini-cupcake/muffin pan cup.  Flute the dough around the top of the cup.  Pour the pumpkin pie mix into each cup, filling to the top.   Note: if you have only one mini-cupcake pan, put 12 of the dough balls into the fridge, along with the remaining pie mix and bake in two separate batches.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the pie mix is set (or a knife inserted into a mini-pie comes out clean).  Let cool completely.  If not eating right away, either freeze or store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Variations

Pumpkin Praline Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie mix from above
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter

Combine the brown sugar, pecans, and butter in small bowl.  The mix should form a crumb.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above.  Place a scant teaspoon of this mixture at the base of each dough cup.  Fill each cup with the basic pumpkin pie mix and bake as directed above.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie ingredients from above
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon crème de cacao

Add the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the basic pumpkin pie mix.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the pumpkin chocolate pie mix.   Bake as directed above.

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
¾ cup eggnog
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon rum
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the eggnog pumpkin pie mix.  Bake as directed above.

Note – if you don’t want to make mini-pies, each recipe and variation above will make one pie.  If you are making one full-size pie, reduce the dough ingredients to 2 cups flour, 1 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup cold water.   Baking time will be 50 minutes for a full sized pie at 350 degrees or until set.

This post is linked to the Saucy Saturday #71 Linky Party.  For more wonderful holiday recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

Rough Puff Pastry

Rough Puff Pastry

I’ve been an avid watcher of The Great British Baking Show for the past two seasons.  It’s been this avid watching that finally gave me the courage to try my hand at puff pastry.  I decided to start off with trying rough puff pastry, largely because I really like saying rough puff pastry.  I also like the allure of the quick and easy.  I’ve wanted to make various things with puff pastry, but every time I buy it at the grocery store, it gets tossed in the freezer, things happen, and next thing I know, it’s a year later and I have puff pastry with a serious case of freezer burn.  I figured if I made my own, I’d use it right away and could also make it in a batch the size I needed.

Of course, the day I decided I needed it (based on the size of the summer squash I was eyeing to make into a savory tart), it was 85 degrees in the PNW.  I’ve been lamenting the lack of a summer the last few weeks, and now I think I’m going to be lamenting the return of summer with a vengeance the next few weeks.   I did discover that you can make rough puff pastry when it’s very hot – you just have to be diligent about letting it rest in the freezer to keep the butter from melting between turns.  I also gave it a full ninety minute rest in the refrigerator after I was done turning it, and it was just fine.

I realize I need to be better about taking photos between steps.  At the very least, I will try to provide an in-depth set of instructions below.  That said, here’s what the rough puff looks like when it’s been mixed and after it’s gone through the turning process.

rough puff mixed rough puff final fold

Rough Puff Pastry
Makes a small batch – I was able to get four 4 inch by 4 inch squares out of this.  It could easily be doubled.

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold butter
1/3 cup cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Grate the butter into the flour/salt mixture.  Stir until the butter is well coated with the flour.  Make a small well in the middle and add the water.  Mix until all the flour/butter/salt mixture is incorporated into the water.  Gently knead the mixture until you have a shaggy dough – don’t over knead or over mix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll out a rectangle about 8 inches by 4 inches.  Fold the dough letter style – the top third comes down and the bottom third comes up.  Turn ¼ turn.  This is the first turn. Roll out again into a rectangle about 8 inches by 4 inches.  Fold the dough again – top third comes down, bottom third comes up.   This is the second turn.  Do this process (roll, fold) at least two more times.  Work fairly quickly – the butter shouldn’t start to melt all over your surface.  If it starts to get too soft, throw the dough into the freezer between turns and let it firm up a bit.

Once you’ve turned and rolled at least four times, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to rest.

I’ll be featuring various ways to use rough puff pastry over the next several months.  This summer squash and goat cheese tart is the first one.

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