Recipes - Desserts

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Halloween Shortbread PumpkiCookies
S'Mores Cookies
Pumpkin Pie
BesMince Pies Ever
Spekkoek!





Halloween Shortbread Pumpkin Cookies

(Sadly, this recipe is not vegan friendly, and because it is intended for a cookie press, I don't know how to convert it so it's vegan friendly. There's more chemistry involved with baking than there is in cooking, and when you're trying to make shaped cookies {that will hold that shape in the oven}, you have limited space to experiment.)

 You will need:
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
  
To make it:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (~177 degrees C).
- In a big mixing bowl, mix the butter, shortening, and sugar with an electric mixer until it looks fluffy.

- Then mix in the egg and the vanilla, keep mixing until it's well-blended.

 - In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. The flour does not need to be sifted. Gradually add the flour mix to the larger bowl, stirring it into the sugar mix with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula (like the kind your mother used to smack you with). I added some pumpkin pie spice at this point, just to make them taste a bit festive. You can flavour them with whatever you want really, so long as it's only seasoning and not something that will change the molecular makeup of the dough (like chocolate). In the past, I've used ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg as well.

- When it's all mixed, it should have sort of the consistency of Play-Doh. Using your handy spatula, put the dough into the cookie press, trying to press it down as flat as possible. Then press the cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart. If you don't have a cookie press, you can just use a rolling pin or something similar and roll the dough flat, then cut out whatever shapes you want.

- It took me a while to get the hang of the cookie press. I ended up with a few wonky cookies... Bake them for 7 minutes, then take them out and let them cool on a rack.

Then decorate!



Mich's S'Mores Cookies
I mostly put this recipe together myself, because I was dissatisfied with the ones I found on the internet. They were all basically just chocolate chip cookie recipes, only with marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers in the cookies as well. I wanted to make something that actually tasted like a s'more, so I went back a step and looked up how to make graham crackers from scratch. Then I altered that recipe slightly so that the cookies would be chewy instead of crispy like a graham cracker.

 This recipe is HUGE--it yielded 6 dozen cookies, so you can cut it in half if you don't need that many. I'm just posting it exactly as I made it.

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prep a few cookie sheets with sheets of parchment paper. 

 You will need:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups crushed graham cracker (I put it in a food processor to crush it up really fine)
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- ~1 tbsp. honey
- 6 packets Splenda
- 2 tbs. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (lol.... I love that) ((that's baking soda))
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- small marshmallows
- 1 bag milk chocolate chips

 To make:
- In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  Mix them up real good.
  
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter & sugar mix.
 And mix that up real good.

 - Then mix in the entire bag of chocolate chips.

 - I started out using a teaspoon to spoon the mix onto the cookie sheets, but then realized that I would end up baking for the next 100 years and have like 12 dozen cookies. So after the first batch I switched to roughly a tablespoon measure. Space the cookies about an inch or an inch and a half apart, and then press the mini marshmallows into the top.
 Those were the smaller cookies. For the bigger cookies, I used 5 or 6 marshmallows per cookie. DO NOT mix the marshmallows into the batter because if any of them end up poking out the bottom of a cookie, they will turn rock hard in the oven from contact with the cookie sheet.

 - Bake them for exactly 6 minutes. Then let them cool on a rack.
 They tasted AMAZING. At the larger size, they were roughly 120-130 calories per cookie. I think I ate like 20.



Mich's Pumpkin Pie
You need
- 1 pumpkin (you need what's called a sugar pumpkin, not just any old pumpkin)
- packaged pie crust (unless you want to make your own; I'm rubbish with pastry so I buy it instead)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- tiny pinch clove
- 2 eggs, and the yolk of a third egg

To make it:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a pie dish with one of the pie crusts and bake for 5 minutes. Let it cool down completely.

- Use your Herculean strength to cut the pumpkin in half (not kidding--I had to use a meat cleaver and brute force). Scrape out the seeds, and then boil the pumpkin for about 20 minutes, or until you can easily stick it with a fork. Let it cool down a bit and then drain the water and scrape out the middle of the pumpkin. Show it who's boss with a potato masher.

- Put all the mashed pumpkin in a cheese cloth to drain the excess water, and let it drain for a couple minutes. If you don't have a cheese cloth, you can just use lots of paper towels--layer like 2 or 3 on a plate and spoon the pumpkin into the middle, then lightly squeeze the water out. Repeat until tons of water stops coming out. 

-Preheat the oven to 425 again.

- In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin (you shouldn't need more than 2 1/2 cups of it; save the rest for soup or mini pumpkin pie cupcakes or something), the sugar, cream, and eggs, and the spices. Mix it up real good.

- Pour the pumpkin mix into the pie dish, over the pre-toasted crust. Most prepackaged pie dough comes in 2 sheets, so you can use the second sheet to make little decorative things to put around the edges of the pie if you like. Brush the dough with a little egg, trying not to get too much on the pumpkin.

- Bake for 10 minutes on 425, then turn the oven down to 350. Bake it for about 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Keep an eye on the crust while it's baking--if it starts to turn too brown too fast, cover the edges with a thin layer of tin foil.

- Don't worry if the pumpkin part looks like it's risen too much once the pie comes out of the oven. It will settle back down. You should let the pie cool for two hours before serving it, or before sticking it in the fridge.




Mich's Best Mince Pies Ever
You will need:
For the filling - red and gold raisins, currants, and cranberries (I just get the Sunmaid kind because the raisins and cranberries come all in one package. 2 packs of those and a box of the currants end up being the perfect amount.)
 ...but if you want to get technical about it: 3/4 cup of each the red and gold raisins, the cranberries, and the currants
- about a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar (you may need more later, but let's start with that)
- a 12 oz. can of frozen apple juice concentrate
- one lemon, and one orange
- one Granny Smith apple, and one gala apple
- 1/4 cup of softened butter
- 1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; and 1/4 tsp. of ground clove, and ginger
- between 1 to 1 1/2 cups of brandy. I use E&J

To Make It:
- Cut up the apples and dump them into a big mixing bowl, followed by the raisins, cranberries, currants, apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, butter, spices, and brandy. Add the zest of the lemon and orange. And mind you don't zest any of your fingers into it as well.

 Mix that up real nice. I like to let it sit overnight in a covered bowl, so all the solid ingredients can properly soak up the flavors of everything else, but you don't have to do that.

- The filling mix then needs to be cooked in a crock pot on low for 8 hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, go buy one.
....or, just heat the filling mix on the stove for at least 2 - 2 1/2 hours on a low heat.

After the eight hours, it should look like this:
Appetizing, no?
  
To make the dough:
I much prefer a shortbread dough, as that's always what we had growing up when Granny made these.
You will need:
 - 3 1/2 cups of butter (7 sticks of butter) softened
- 4 1/2 cups of flour
- 5/8 cups confectioners sugar
- 5/8 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

 - Mix it all together in a large bowl. It's easiest if you use your hands. When it's well blended, wrap it tight in cling wrap and let it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours, and then let it sit out of the fridge for at least 1 hour.

 - Once the filling is slow-cooked and the dough has had a good sit, you're ready to make the pies! You'll need a good cutting board or a good surface for the dough, and a muffin pan. 
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line your muffin pan with muffin cups.
Make sure your cutting board or surface is well-floured, and keep the flour out because you're going to need it. The shortbread dough is not as easy to roll out as regular pie dough, but sure just try your best.
 I usually just do a little bit at a time. You want it about a quarter-inch thick.

 And then I use the container for the muffin cups to cut circles.
 'Cause they're pretty much the same size as the muffin cups, which works for when you take those little circles of dough and use them to line your muffin cups in the muffin pan.
  
- Then use a small spoon to spoon the filling into the dough in the muffin tin.

I like to use a star-shaped cookie cutter to put a piece of dough on top of each mince pie, but you can use any shape you want, or cover it completely, or not cover it at all.

- Before putting them in the oven, lightly brush the exposed dough on the top with some scrambled egg. I also like to sprinkle a teensy bit of cinnamon sugar.

 - Bake for about 15-17 minutes, and then let them cool on a rack.

Amazing pies!! Not exactly a low-calorie dessert, but these pies are so rich that you physically cannot binge on them. One is quite enough.



Spekkoek!

You will need a lot of patience for this one.

And a lot of ingredients.

This cake can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Because this is (or should be) a 12 to 18 layer cake, there is an incredible amount of room for customization. You will need:
- 4 sticks (2 cups) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- for a traditional spekkoek (which is really just a spiced cake): cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg
- I also used 1/2 cup cocoa powder and melted chocolate chips for the choco layers

To make it:
I'm going to just lay out the simple traditional method for a regular spekkoek. I'll put my changes that I made for the St. Paddy's day cake at the end.
- Make sure you have lots of clean bowls, and that you're close enough to the sink to keep going back and washing your mixer or whisk after each step. Do not preheat the oven. You'll only need the broiler after you have finished all the prep.

- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.


- Next you need to separate the eggs, because first only the yolks get mixed in with the butter and sugar. Set the egg whites aside in a separate bowl.


- Then whip up the egg whites until they're stiff, like whipped cream.

- Gradually mix the whipped egg whites into the yolk/sugar/butter mix. Do not panic--it's supposed to look like that. (should have the consistency of cottage cheese kinda?)

- Sift the flour and mix it in. It should end up with a consistency more like pancake batter than cake batter.

- Now separate the batter, with half in two different bowls. Add the vanilla extract to one, add the spices to the other (I used 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp clove; but you can really use how much you want for your tastes.)

For my St. Paddy's spekkoek, I separated everything early on--separated the butter/sugar mixes so that one had brown sugar and the other white; and then after the step of adding the flour to each, I took 1/3 of each of those mixes so that I had a 3rd bowl of both brown and white sugar. I put the vanilla in the white sugar mix, the spices in the one with both sugars, and the cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the one with only brown sugar. Then I dyed the spiced mixture green and attempted to dye the chocolate mixture orange.

NOW gather all of your patience, because it's time to cook it.

- Turn on the broiler.

- I used a circular 9" baking pan; a really really good one that is non-stick even when not greased. Most of the recipes I looked up recommended greasing the bottom of the pan with butter or something similar and then adding a layer of wax paper, and then greasing that as well. With my skills in dropping things, setting things on fire, and blowing things up, I thought it best to just stick to the pan with no wax paper. However, if you want your spekkoek to look fab with no icing (like a traditional spekkoek) I would try the wax paper method.

- Pour a very very thin layer of cake mix into the pan and spread it evenly on the bottom. It doesn't matter which one you start with--spiced or plain. I started with the chocolate.

- Stick that under the broiler and WATCH IT. Every oven is different. My layers took between 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to cook, but the first bunch of layers might take up to 2 minutes because they're farther away from the heat. Take the pan out as soon as the layer of cake is solid.

- Add a really thin layer of the other mix over the first one, spreading it out evenly.

- This can take a while because of the consistency of the mix. Just do your best and try not to get frustrated. Broil the next layer just like the first one. And then the next and the next, alternating between the spiced mix and the plain mix.

- When you're finished (it should have a minimum of 12 layers, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get there on the first try...), let the cake cool.

Then remove it from the pan. Mine wasn't perfect, so I iced it. :D

I made this same basic recipe, only separating it into 6 bowls to make the rainbow Spekkoek.





3 comments:

  1. omgosh,
    FABULOUS!!!
    that cake is AMAZING!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. These recipes look amazing! I'll have to try making them!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Man do you have awesome beddy-bye eyes or what?!

    ReplyDelete

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