What could be better than stuffing things inside a cupcake? I mean, really. A cupcake is like a dream come true for a lot of people… or at least something that gives them a tiny bit of a joy when they unexpectedly get one on a Monday morning. When I stumbled on the Bake It in a Cake blog a few years ago, it was like a revelation to me, “Wow! I never thought of shoving THAT into a cupcake.” And the creativity stirred all on its own until I was doing all kinds of out-there experiments with stuffed cupcakes and cookies.
In the original Bake It in a Cake recipe, the pumpkin cake part is just cake with pumpkin in it, and I still wanted it to be pumpkin spice, so I used an entirely different cake recipe.
Also Rolo candy is not that common here. Usually I substitute with Norwegian Smil candy, but this time I had Swedish Center candy, which is actually better than Smil, so I might make the switch entirely (except that Smil is sold in big bulk packages at the crazy border shopping centers).
Sometimes the best discoveries come when you just don’t have all the things on hand that you would normally need. Recently I wanted to make a pumpkin pie but didn’t have cream, milk or condensed milk in stock. I thought about how I might make a non-dairy version and decided a coconut milk (which I always have!) variety might work well. Not completely sure what measurements I should use, I turned to the trusty internet and discovered the most lovely website: The Shiksa in the Kitchen.
Her recipe for coconut macaroon pumpkin pie sounds perfect on every level – so it’s up next on my baking plan. (Sadly, I did not get around to making it the other day because I had only one egg.)
The site, though, is filled with fabulous stuff like pretzel challah, rum and coffee beef brisket, gouda macaroni and cheese with pine nuts and golden raisins (I’d skip the raisins – but it otherwise sounds amazing), a gorgeous Mediterranean seven-layer dip and about a million other to-die-for recipes complete with mouthwatering pictures, and step-by-step instructions on how to do just about everything.
The Shiksa site does it for me in particular because I’m a baker through and through but not that creative or adventurous when it comes to cooking – so the recipes here for cooking actual food pique my interest and actually make me want to go in the kitchen and try stuff out. I’m in love.
Sometimes I feel a lot like leftover ingredients. You buy a bunch of stuff for a specific recipe you really want – but then you may be left with ingredients. You make something out of what’s left because you don’t want to waste it. It’s in your face, in your fridge or cupboard – but you don’t want the ingredients and don’t really want whatever it is you will make out of those leftovers. Whatever it is will suffice, but it’s not the plan, not the dreamt of piece.
Today someone I don’t even know mentioned something to me about how he likes me, and then said, “Can you imagine being your real self and still be loved and appreciated?” It’s a good and fair question. It sounds a bit self-pitying, but I can’t actually imagine that. I am always and immediately skeptical, and I suppose this stops the sense or belief that it is possible to be appreciated simply for being who I am in any given moment – in the now. For a bunch of different reasons, I imagine people “like” me for some other reason – not me. This is how I am like a leftover. Someone might turn to me (i.e. “like” me) in the absence of someone or something else that was the first choice. I have a complex about being the “side dish” or “consolation prize”. Who really knows me anyway? Anymore, probably not many – because why should I let them? It is a self-defeating catch-22.
This was not my point, though. The point is that leftover ingredients have led me to bake one of my traditional, original recipe pumpkin pies. I have a big container of cream, loads and loads of brown sugar, tons of eggs… so pumpkin pie seemed like a delicious plan.
I started off today in the office exchanging messages on Facebook with a colleague who was on a bus – it was unintentionally stalker-like to see her progress as her public transport made its way to different parts of the city, and I could track her, thinking, “Oh, she must have stopped responding because she is walking up the path to the office now…”. In any case, our conversation started the day off on the right foot because it sparked laughter. And, as Robyn Hitchcock sings, “Nothing clings to you like laughter…“. Too true.
I also noted that the 24 kinds of baked goods that I brought to the office yesterday – the logistical nightmare that that was – has been reduced and fits nicely on two long tables instead of three. Progress!
Christmas 2013 spread – three full tables
The final list of stuff baked and brought along with links to recipes (where they exist – some I was making for the first time so will post in new posts in the coming days)…
CHRISTMAS M&M COOKIES (I know this links to a white chocolate macadamia cookie recipe, but I have been using it for M&M cookies for a while – prefer it to the one I used to use. Just eliminate the macadamia and white chocolate and put M&Ms in instead!)
And the final step in pumpkin pie – prepping and eating!
I realized as I was making the sweet potato casserole and, more importantly, the pumpkin pie that I, the consummate baker, had somehow let myself run out of ground ginger! Luckily I had fresh ginger from last week’s carrot soup – but what was I thinking?
The pumpkin pie for my mini, belated Thanksgiving is out of the oven, meaning its penultimate stage in pie life has been reached. (The final step in its short existence of course being its demise and disappearance.) Its appearance and vanishing is like magic, no?
the penultimate pumpkin pie step
No, we shall not be treated to pie in the sky – but pie in the oven and on the kitchen table. Dessert is served.
I saw today that musician Aimee Mann posted on Facebook that she has renamed pumpkin pie “squash quiche” in order to justify having more in the middle of the day for no reason. I think the season is the reason – and that is enough justification, but bonus points for finding good ways to trick oneself.
For right now, it is “pie in the sky” to imagine that I could tackle the fabled cherpumple cake. I considered attempting this baking feat – whole pies baked inside whole cakes in triplicate – yes, but it made no sense since my Thanksgiving will only be one other person and me. But one day I will take a stab at the impossible, improbable and disgusting cherpumple cake.
Recently in Berlin, I meant to make a pumpkin pie. Or at least some pumpkin soup. It did not happen, for whatever reason, but in the meantime, I did stumble on a recipe I used a few months ago when I made a last-minute, kind of makeshift pumpkin pie.
My normal pumpkin pie recipe calls for cream, for example, and brown sugar. This time, I was in my kitchen and had opened a can of sweetened condensed milk to make some other recipe… and then realized I did not have all the needed ingredients to make that recipe. I thought about what I could do instead and decided to have a go at a condensed-milk version of the pumpkin pie.
I whipped up a pie crust (recipe below) and then made the following filling, which actually comes out more smooth and delicate than my standard recipe:
15 ounces pumpkin puree (canned)
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (most standard cans are 14 ounces)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425F. Whisk all filling ingredients together and pour into unbaked, prepared pie crust. Bake 15 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for another 35 minutes.
Refrigerate a few hours or overnight and enjoy.
CRUST: 1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chilled butter
3 tablespoons cold water
Stir together flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in enough water, with fork, just until flour is moistened. Shape dough into ball, flatten ball. Roll ball on lightly floured surface into 12 inch circle. Place in 9 inch pie pan. Crimp edge. Set aside.