Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear Biscuit Pie
Happy New Year’s Eve!  It is a frigid 20 degrees today with a windchill of about -5 and this morning as I got reluctantly out of my bed, I looked out the frosted window and saw gray.  Just gray with bits of white flocking everything in sight.  I thought of what I would make for breakfast for the redhead and for Matt, who was working from home due to the weather, and I wanted something warm and cozy with possibly a bit of cinnamon.  We had pears getting way too ripe on the counter and lest I waste such beautiful fruit, I decided to do a spin on Joy the Baker’s apple pie biscuits.  The apples for her recipe are obviously not mushy pear consistency and so they cut up and bake into biscuits nicely.  I knew that wouldn’t be possible with pears and I’d just end up frustrated, so I decided to do a free form biscuit/pie/tart mashup and the results were amazing.  I adapted her biscuit recipe to include creme and lemon juice instead of buttermilk and the result was cakey, tangy perfection on top of caramlized pears.

I highly recommend this dish.

Pear Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie*

For the pears:
4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
4 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
2 TBS granulated sugar
4 TBS cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 heavy cream
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup milk

In the super old, awesome, vintage skillet your husband got you for Christmas, melt the butter and brown sugar and salt together until bubbly.  Fold in the pears until they’re all coated and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 425F.  In a large bowl, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it’s all well incorporated.  You can use your hands to break up the butter into tiny pieces in the flour, or just use a pastry cutter.  Either way, make sure it resembles tiny pea-sized crumbles.  Stir the lemon juice into the heavy cream and pour into the flour.  Stir up until it’s all moistened and then add the milk until a sticky dough forms.  You may need more milk.  Loosely form biscuits and layer on top of the pears.  Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

*adapted from Joy the Baker

Pear and Biscuit Pie

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Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake

coffeecake
Coffee cake has always seemed a bit boring to me.  In a land filled with pies and cookies and brownies, why would you ever choose a coffee cake?  It’s cake’s slightly dry cousin.  I never see a coffee cake recipe and think, “Yeah, I’ll spend time making that” when I could be spending time making something more satisfying.

That was all until I saw this recipe from Tasting Table.  Do you get the Tasting Table emails?  If not, you should.  So many great recipes and interesting gift ideas abound in every email.  This coffee cake looked absolutely decadent (it should – there’s almost three cups of sugar – ack!) But I figured in the name of Thanksgiving indulgence and postpartum cravings, I’d dive in and try it.  And I dadgum near ate the entire pan myself.  Not my proudest moment, but it was pretty enjoyable.  The filling reminded me of fig newtons and the lemon zest brightened the entire sugar-laden thing up.  I’d definitely recommend making this when you have family in your house over Christmas.  It makes a ton, it feeds and satisfies a lot (or one person over the course of a week) and it is super comforting.  Enjoy!

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Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake
makes one 13×9 cake

For the Streusel:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Coffee Cake:

Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Filling:
½ cup chopped prunes
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup poppy seeds
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, light brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon until everything is well incorporated. Add the melted butter to the flour-spice mixture and mix with a fork or a wooden spoon until fully incorporated and clumps begin to form. Make ahead: Unbaked streusel can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

2. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with the softened butter and dust the pan with flour.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract and melted butter until very smooth.

5. Using a rubber spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.

6. Layer half the batter in the prepared baking pan; smooth it out to the edge leveling the top with an offset spatula. (Tip: Since the batter is so thick, it’s best to scoop it in ¼ cup mounds into the pan before spreading.)

7. Sprinkle the prunes evenly over the batter then sprinkle with the dark brown sugar and the poppy seeds. Top the filling with the lemon zest.

coffee cake
8. Layer the remaining batter over the filling using the same method mentioned above. Smooth out the top of the batter, ensuring it is even and reaches the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the streusel, and then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes.  I had to bake it over an hour to get the middle done.  I recommend rotating it halfway through baking!

*recipe from Tasting Table

Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Rosemary and White Chocolate

Christmas Cookies
Every year since who knows when, I’ve been making these lovely little biscotti that have a wonderful marriage of sweet, tangy and savory all packed into one crumbly bite.  This year I decided to turn my biscotti into a soft sugar cookie and I absolutely loved the results.  I took the batch to my knitting group and it got rave reviews – and those ladies are hard to please!  I just love this combination – it’s so Christmassy in color and taste.  A bit of pine essence from the rosemary and the in-season cranberries with a little snow-capped action from the white chocolate.  If you wanted a more festive presentation you could skip adding the white chocolate chips and drizzle the tops with melted white chocolate!  These are easy and bake up beautifully – perfect for your Christmas cookie exchange and more unique!

Christmas Cookies - soft sugar cookies with cranberries, rosemary and white chocolate

Christmas Cookies*
makes 2 dozen give or take

2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS light brown sugar
1 large egg
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a medium bowl.

Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Add the cranberries and white chocolate chips and fold in until just combined.  Scoop out onto baking sheets into about a 2 tablespoon sized ball and lightly press down with your fingers to flatten out the top.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake 15 to 18 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Cool the cookies for a few minutes after they come out of the oven and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve with coffee and enjoy!

*base sugar cookie recipe from The New Best Recipe

Cranberry Rosemary White Chocolate Cookies

 

Mulled Christmas Cider

mulled christmas cider 2
Matt and I stayed home for Thanksgiving this year.  We decided to do our own thing because we had just had Eleanor, I was still very uncomfortable to travel and we just wanted to do our own thing and cook what we love and not have to worry about entertaining.  One of the things I made was this amazing mulled cider/wine that I got from Martha Stewart.  It sounded so perfect to have simmering on the stove all day – a little cider, a little wine, fruit, spices and maple syrup! I doubled the recipe and kept it hot in the crock pot and it was a warm and welcome treat, always ready, for when we had a drop-in visitor or felt the need for some holiday cheer.  I think I’ll have to make it again for Christmas – it’s just too festive to only enjoy once!

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Mulled Cider*
serves 6

  • 3 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 orange or 2 tangerines (sliced – I used 6 cuties and they were the perfect size for a cup!)
  • 1 medium apple (sliced 1/4 inch thick)

Bring all the ingredients to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and keep hot on the stove.  Or combine all the ingredients into a slow-cooker and heat on high until boiling, then reduce to warm and have it ready for guests and yourself all day!

*I love this recipe from Martha Stewart! The maple syrup and the peppercorns added such a sweet warmth to the drink and a depth of flavor not had in other mulled wines or ciders I’ve had.

Chewy Dark Chocolate and Apricot Granola Bars

chewy granola
Well, friends, I’m happy to report that my daughter, Eleanor, was born three weeks (almost 4!) ago and she’s doing amazing and we are surviving the sleepless nights and the toddler-sister adjustment without too many scrapes and bruises.  Life is certainly different than it was just a month ago.  But it’s also a billion times sweeter.  Here’s my new family (pics taken by my wonderful friend, Katrina):

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It’s remarkable how little time in the day I actually can get things done, which explains further why posting recipes took a very, very far back burner to everything else.  I also didn’t cook a single thing for two weeks.  It felt weird, but it was nice to have a break. We have remarkable friends who brought us dinner for nearly two whole weeks and then it was Thanksgiving and although we didn’t travel, we certainly cooked!  And a few of those recipes will come in the following weeks.  I wanted to post an easy and satisfying snack for my first post back, because that’s what I need in my new life, now, and honestly, I’m hungry all the time while nursing a baby around the clock.  I find myself insanely hungry when Eleanor wakes up for her 2 a.m. feed but too tired to go to the kitchen to find something and so I fixed that problem yesterday by making some truly crave-worthy granola bars.  Chewy, almost falling apart, no-bake, and filled with my favorite things – namely, dark chocolate, apricots and almonds.

I hope you enjoy these and I am looking forward to getting back in the kitchen around the baking-est time of the year.  🙂

Chewy Granola Bars

 

Chewy Dark Chocolate Apricot Granola Bars
makes about 16-24

2 cups puffed rice cereal
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup mix-ins (I used dark chocolate, dried apricots and some leftover trail mix that had almonds and raisins – you use what you can find!)
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Combine the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, salt and peanut butter and let it come to a boil for about a minute.  Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients (if you don’t want your chocolate melting, add it after you get everything else combined.  I didn’t care and it didn’t melt that much).  Stir until fully incorporated and then press in either a 13×9 greased baking dish, or like I did, a rimmed sheet pan (for slightly thinner bars).  Let it cool completely and then slice and store.