Fall desserts: November nourishment

Nov. 1, 2014, 12:13 a.m. | By Zoe Johnson | 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure what it is about November that I find so wholly appealing. Possibly it's because it's the birth month of my favorite literary character (Jo March) or that it is, as her sister Meg notes, the most disagreeable month of the year. Possibly it's because the winter chill is beginning to set in, requiring thick coats and lots of hot chocolate and fuzzy socks. Possibly it's just because it has Thanksgiving in it. Whatever the reason—and whether you like November or not—SCO has some baked goods for you to make the month even better.

Pumpkin whoopie pies

Pumpkin whoopie pies are cute and yummy. What else do you need? Photo courtesy of Cranberry Island Kitchen.

Fall tastes? Check. Delicious filling? Check. Adorable, fun to make and even funner to eat? Check. If you're doing any baking with children—or just with your friends—whoopie pies are the way to go.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. Whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla in a separate large bowl until well combined, then stir in flour mixture. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or tablespoon measure, drop a scant scoop's worth of batter or 2 scant tablespoons of batter onto a lined baking sheet to form 1 mound. Make 15 more mounds, arranging them 2 inches apart until baking sheet is full (you will have batter left over). Bake until springy to the touch, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookie-cakes to rack to cool. Form and bake remaining batter on the other parchment-lined sheet. You should have a total of 32 cookie-cakes. Leave oven on.

While cookie-cakes are baking, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed until smooth. Chill filling until firm enough to hold its shape when spread, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of filling each on flat side of half the cooled cookie-cakes, then top with other half of cookie-cakes. If necessary, chill whoopie pies just long enough to firm up filling again, about 30 minutes. Gently press pecans onto filling around middle of each whoopie pie to help them adhere to filling.

Brown sugar-apple cheesecake

So often, cheesecake is boring (inasmuch as it's possible for something delicious to be boring). People settle for a straightforward graham cracker crust with a straightforward vanilla filling. Delicious, yes. But boring. And that is exactly what I love about this cake. In addition to being almost too good to be real, it's interesting. The crust uses gingersnaps, brown sugar (for that caramelized taste!) and cinnamon. The filling uses cider. And—best of all—there's a layer of soft browned apples in the middle. What more do I have to say? Get cookin'.

About 30 gingersnaps
4 tablespoons & 3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons butter
3 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
24 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Butter a springform pan. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs. Pulse in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, then pour the melted butter in and pulse. Turn the crumbs into the pan and firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oven is heated, wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool while you make the rest, leaving the oven on.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate and repeat with the remaining slices. Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about four minutes, then add the 3/4 cup brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat for another two minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for one minute after each egg goes in. Beat in the sour and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about a third of the batter into the crust. Spoon the apples on top. Cover with the remaining batter. Place the springform in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. If the center shimmies when you touch it, that's fine. Gently transfer the cake, in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours (overnight is better). Run a blunt knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it, open the latch and remove the sides.

Twofer pie

It's an ancient question, and a divisive one: which is better, pecan or pumpkin pie? Luckily, with this pie, you don't have to choose. Like all of Dorie Greenspan's concoctions, the Twofer is delicious, relatively simple and perfect for any occasion—especially Thanksgiving.

Pie crust

Pumpkin filling
1 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pecan filling
1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark works)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 oz pecan halves

Twofer pie will solve all of your family's Thanksgiving disputes. Photo courtesy of Country Living.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Combine all ingredients for the pumpkin filling in a food processor and pulse for two minutes. In a medium bowl, beat all the pecan filling ingredients except the pecans. Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie crust, top evenly with the pecans and then pour the pecan filling over it all. (If you're like me, you won't be able to keep everything separate. Don't worry: it'll still be yummy). Bake the pie for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pie for another 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack.

Tags: Fall desserts brown sugar-apple cheesecake pumpkin whoopie pies twofer pie

Zoe Johnson. Hey there! I'm Zoe, and my spirit animal is a lioness, which sums up my personality pretty well, actually--though I do try not rip people from limb to limb if I can help it. But hey, we've all got our growth areas, right? I really … More »

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