Banana Cream Pie with Bourbon Caramel Sauce and Peanut Crust

I don’t know about you, but most of my life seems to be spent going from one point to another: a goal, an achievement, a restaurant, a workplace, a life phase. I like to plan for my next destination, but I often forget to pay attention to what’s going on between the two points, the transition.

Transitions. That’s what the focus of my weekly yoga class was. Typically, yoga class is spent holding poses, moving from position to position, in the most efficient and danger-minimizing way possible. This week, however, we spent very little time in the actual pose, and focused on the transition. We spent more time getting to the pose, focusing on how we were moving towards a position, rather than actually in the position. The transition is often where everything happens. Yes, breathing and remaining present in an actual pose should be a focus, but being present (emotionally, mentally, physically) in the transition should be just as much of a priority, if not more so, since most of our lives our lived in transition.

Getting caught up in planning what my endpoint is going to look like is so easy for me; I slip into organizing mode and miss the wonder and awe right in front of me. To be honest, focusing and going slowly through the transitions to give them the full attention and respect they deserve actually hurt. It required much more concentration and strength and muscle control than usual. However, it gave me the time to be able to listen to my body and hear it when its wisdom was telling me to change directions. Normally, I’d be so focused on the next pose, that I wouldn’t have heard that whisper saying, “you know, maybe you shouldn’t go into that deep lunge today, perhaps you should stay Warrior Two, or move to a side stretch instead.”

Remaining present and choosing to live in the transition, rather than live for the endpoint, allowed me to stay present enough to be aware of my needs, my potential, my limitations, and my desires in a way that would not have happened otherwise. I was able to receive the wisdom to change course even in the middle of a transition -to change my goal because the purpose was not the goal, but to live and engage with myself and the environment.

So my take away is: I don’t want to be so focused on my end pose, or next life goal, that I miss an opportunity to respect myself and experience something unexpected and good, even if it was not what I originally planned.

Yoga is not the only thing that has taught me this lately. The necessity for spontaneity (and the outright inability to plan) when being in a relationship with someone in the military has really hit me hard smacked me in the face this week. I had been so focused on my goals and plans and ideas that I had missed the reality of the situation. I was feeling insecure because of [what appeared to me to be] another’s lack of interest in planning with me, when really, it was a lifestyle/survival choice of that other because they know that anything and everything can change in the blink of an eye. Living in the transition, rather than the goal, helped me see that. It changed my perspective. My insecurity no longer had a place to grab hold of in that situation and I was able to appreciate that the other person was actually trying to show me grace and compassion, not avoid being with me.

When I got home from yoga, I decided I want to celebrate. I was feeling overwhelmed -I had to go into child’s pose and simply cry with my face down in my mat several times during that class- and decided that making this pie was the best way to live in the moment. I had wanted to make it for a a few months, but other “goals” kept getting in the way. Baby steps, right? I might as well live in the moment, take a rest, and make a pie, instead of going to bed early so I could make it to that gym class tomorrow. Planning is good, but being present is the lesson that I need to be living out right now.

Banana cream pie with salted bourbon caramel sauce, peanuts, and whipped cream

Banana cream pie (salted bourbon caramel sauce, peanuts, and whipped cream not pictured)

Just a note: THE SAUCE IS AMAZING. If you don’t make the pie, just make the sauce and put it on EVERYTHING. I highly recommend using it to top high-quality vanilla ice cream.

Banana Cream Pie wit Bourbon Caramel Sauce and Peanut Crust
From Bon Appetit
Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups cups unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Filling

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas

DIRECTIONS

Peanut Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse peanuts in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer 1/4 cup ground nuts to a small bowl; cover and set aside for garnish. Pulse remaining peanuts until peanut butter forms, about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat both sugars, peanut butter, and butter until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until well blended, about 3 minutes (mixture will be clumpy). Gradually add dry ingredients; beat just to combine (mixture will be crumbly; do not overmix or crust will be tough). Gather dough with your hands, place in pie dish, and press evenly onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until edges are deep golden brown, 15–17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover tightly.

Cream Filling

  • Bring milk and cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add egg yolks; whisk until smooth (mixture will be very thick). Whisking constantly, gradually add milk mixture to yolk mixture. Return to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thick, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a blender with butter and vanilla. Purée until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; press plastic wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream. Chill until set, AT LEAST 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead.

Assembly

  • Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat 1/2 cup cream and powdered sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. Cover and chill.
  • Stir sugar, 1 tablespoon bourbon, corn syrup, and 1 tablespoon water in a medium deep saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, bring to a boil without stirring, and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar just barely turns a light tan color, about 4 minutes (mine continued to cook after, so I took it off at a light tan color, though you might be cooler than me and be able to actually get yours to a dark amber color without burning… I can’t). Remove caramel from heat; whisk in remaining 1/4 cup cream, butter, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Let cool for 5 minutes; whisk in remaining 1/2 Tbsp. bourbon and vanilla. Let bourbon caramel cool slightly. DO AHEAD:Whipped cream and bourbon caramel can be made 2 hours ahead. Re-whisk whipped cream before serving. Let bourbon caramel stand at room temperature.
  • Spread 1/4 cup vanilla pastry cream evenly over bottom of peanut crust. Slice bananas into 1/4″-thick rounds. Layer half of the bananas over pastry cream. Top with 1 1/2 cups pastry cream. Arrange remaining bananas over; top bananas with remaining pastry cream. Garnish with whipped cream and reserved ground peanuts. Serve with bourbon caramel.

The Chocolate Cake Recipe David Lebovitz Found on a Men’s Room Wall

Yup, you read that right. David Lebovitz, the master of all things delicious and Parisian, found the recipe found below on the wall of a room where men, well, yeah… But don’t let that throw you. This cake is so easy and so delicious. And it’s perfect for all those gluten-free people in your life -don’t deny it, we all have at least one friend who is GF who drives us crazy when trying to figure out what to cook.

A flourless chocolate cake.

A flourless chocolate cake.

I have been settling into DC fairly well the past few weeks. I just started my third week of semi-adult work and am pretty happy. I spent this past weekend enjoying the company of new friends. Some I met through work, others through my new church. No matter what I did though, I was pretty intent on staying inside, as the weather was miserably cold and wet, in my opinion. So Saturday, instead of going out, I stayed in and make steak, potatoes, broccoli, and flourless chocolate cake (which I served with Talenti black cherry gelato… um, to.die.for.)

Hanging out with new friends and trying some new recipes... looks like I might have some trouble actually tasting the treats I make...

Hanging out with new friends and trying some new recipes… looks like I might have some trouble actually tasting the treats I make…

Oh, and when I got home from work tonight, what did I have for dinner? Yes, I pulled a cliche single-girl-in-the-city move and opened a small bottle of red wine and ate a rather large slice of cake with a dollop of that delicious gelato beside it. No need for real meals, such things are overrated on cold, wet, dark Monday nights.

If you are looking for an easy dessert for Valentine’s day, I would say this is it. The texture is decadent and would be perfect if you are going for something, ummm, almost sensual… Yes, I just said that a chocolate cake was sensual. Just try it. You will totally understand and then maybe you won’t look at me that way. The texture is just amazing. Somewhere between a souffle and a mousse. Make this!

Racine’s Cake via David Lebovitz
Makes one 9-inch cake
Taken off of In Jennie’s Kitchen

Cocoa powder, for preparing the pan

10 ounces (280 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) salted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon freshly brewed espresso

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 g) plus 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (20 g) cocoa nibs (optional)

Powdered sugar, for dusting the cake (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan, dust it with a bit of cocoa powder, and tap out any excess.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk together the egg yolks and the 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and creamy, about 1 minute.

In a clean, dry bowl and with a clean whip attachment, whisk the egg whites on low speed until they begin to hold their shape. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar and whisk on high speed until the whites hold soft peaks.

Fold the beaten egg yolks into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in half of the whipped egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites, mixing just untiI there are no visible streaks of egg whites. Don’t overfold.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with cocoa nibs, if using, and bake until the cake feels as though it’s just barely set in the center, about 25 minutes (Jennie’s note: my cake only took 21 minutes—I always start checking a few minutes before directed finish time). It shouldn’t feel too firm. Let cool completely.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Release the sides of the pan and dust the cake with powdered sugar, if using.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Mmmmm, I love pumpkin. Especially when its folded into yummy carbs and sugar and fats. Adding all of the holiday-related spices definitely make the pumpkin flavor even better.

Today I am visiting a friend in Pennsylvania, kind of taking a break from life after all the comprehensive exam and graduation craziness -though I do still have one paper to finish for my independent study… I’ll put that off until tomorrow, I think. It’s surprisingly nice up here (pretty much snow and the weather has been in the 40’s). I even tried a new risotti recipe on my friend’s family that turned out well! -Yes, I make new recipes for important people… Yes, I know that’s just asking for trouble, but it has worked out well for me so far, so I am not tempted to change my ways as of right now.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
From Young Homemakers

Dough:
4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder, optional (I wanted more rise on mine and I’ve trouble with my rolls falling after the first rise in the past. I think adding this helped!)
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Filling:
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar {I was almost out so substituted 1/2 cup with dark brown sugar}
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon melted butter

Icing:
Mixture of milk and powdered sugar

1. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder (if using) in a large bowl; set aside. In a stand mixer, combine eggs, pumpkin, and oil until well mixed. Slowly add flour to egg mixture until all combined together; add more flour as needed until dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. I like to then move it to a counter where I can kneed the dough by hand a few minutes. You want it soft but not sticky/wet. Place dough in a large bowl drizzled with a little oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until double in size.

 2. Make the homemade pumpkin pie spice. Combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

 3. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 16×12 rectangle. Spread dough with melted butter and sprinkle filling evenly across to the edges. Starting from the longer side, begin making a tight roll, gently pressing the “seam” together as you go. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces using a sharp knife. Carefully place each slice flat side down in the prepared 9×13 pan side by side. Allow the rolls to rise another hour in a warm area or until rolls have just about reached the top of your pan and almost doubled in size.

Sweet Potato Pie

Today is the day that I will receive “the envelope.” Yes, I am referring to the envelope that contains the answer to the question, “Did all of these months of studying, constantly reading news sources, and stress-induced baking actually translate into a completed Master’s of Diplomacy and International Commerce?”

Although this post is going up at 5am (so I will be driving to the gym, to my last Chaos class (spin/bootcamp) before leaving town for [hopefully] better things, I will not get my envelope until 2pm, at which point I will celebrate (I’m optimistic right now) by putting on my new dress that I paid too much for and attending my school’s graduation reception with my family who has flown and driven into Kentucky for this occasion.

I mentioned before that there was much baking going on in my kitchen as a kind of stress-relief. One of those baked goods was a sweet potato pie for a classmate of mine who, despite having grown up in Kentucky, has never tasted the goodness that is a sweet potato pie. Well, I made sure to correct that hideous oversight as soon as I could and brought it to my Energy Security class within a few days.

Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk*
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I use King Arthur’s recipe)

*Instead of vanilla almond milk and cream, you can use whole milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them on a shallow baking pan in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 400°F, and place a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack.

Scoop the flesh from potatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Add the melted butter mixture to the sweet potatoes with the milk, cream and the eggs and beat with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (the filling will be quite liquid). Pour the filling into the pie shell.

Carefully transfer the pie to the heated shallow baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the filling is just set, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool.

Honey-Wheat Cookies

After reading Last Call on the recommendations of several friends last year, the idea of throwing a speakeasy party sounded fantastic when a classmate of mine suggested it. Well, a whole year later, the party finally came together and, with almost everyone in full 1920’s costumes and lots of old fashion cocktails to go around, I believe it was a smashing success. I wish I had taken pictures to show off how classy our whole group looked!

My contribution to the party was these cookies, and a large bottle of gin, of course. I love this recipe -Dorie Greenspan is a genius. The flavors are subtle, but just one or two of these light, soft cookies is completely satisfying with a nice cup of tea as a midday treat.

Perhaps I will make another batch of these this afternoon as a reward to myself for surviving both my written and oral comprehensive exams for my Master’s. Then maybe I’ll pull out the big guns and try my first angel food cake this weekend, after I find out if I actually passed on Friday =).

Honey Wheat Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup honey

1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the wheat germ (you’ll use the other 1/2 cup right before baking), the baking powder and the salt and keep nearby.

Working in the bowl of a mixer, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Using the paddle attachment, if you have one, beat the lemon-sugar and the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until creamy and smooth.  Add the honey and beat another minute or two.  Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes more, until you have a smooth, light and fluffy mixture.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two portions, mixing only until each addition disappears.  Scrape the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, seal and chill the dough at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.

Getting ready to bake:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Have a pair of lined baking sheets ready.  For convenience, you can shape the second sheet of while the first is baking.

Put the remaining 1/2 cup wheat germ into a bowl and keep it near you.  Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and working with a spoonful at a time, roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls.  Drop each ball into the wheat germ, turn to coat, then place the balls on a baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between balls (these don’t spread much).  Use your palm or the bottom of a glass to gently flatten each cookie.

Slide the sheet into the oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are just firm to the touch.  Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to room temperature and repeat with the remaining dough.

Storing:  The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.  Once baked, the cookies will keep at room temperature for about 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Bourbon Baked Apples

Mmmmm, baked apples with vanilla ice cream.

After visiting an apple orchard with my sister a few weeks ago, I knew I had to have some baked apples. Their flavor is so pure and simple, but so delicious! If you don’t have bourbon lying around (I live in Kentucky, I can’t not have bourbon, haha), just substitute dark rum.

These are a great treat. I even had one for breakfast -I used frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, does that make it a little better for me? On a cold fall morning, I’m not sure that I am terribly concerned with the nutrition content of my breakfast though -consuming something hot seems much more relevant on such days.

As the days get colder, and there are less random freakishly-warm days with which Kentucky so often teases me, I will probably find myself making this simple dessert/snack/”meal” more often.

Butter-Rum Baked Apples
Adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 Golden Delicious apples with stems
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut off top third of each apple and reserve. Peel the middle third of the apple (this helps keep the apples from getting too large for their skin as they bake, according to something I heard on a food radio show.) Core apples, as well as scoop out seeds and some of flesh from apples using a melon-ball cutter or round teaspoon measure to form a cavity (do not puncture bottoms). Stand apples in a buttered baking dish.

Heat remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour some of syrup into cavity of each apple and remainder into baking dish. Return apple tops to apples and cover dish loosely with foil.

Bake in middle of oven until apples are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

So I love lasagna. It’s delicious. And you can make so many variations. I mean, really, it’s carbs and cheese with whatever you have lying around the kitchen thrown in. Who doesn’t like carbs and cheese?

The only problem I have with lasagna is that most recipes are designed for people whose families apparently consist of entire college football teams. I mean, there’s no way that a single girl can make and eat an entire, traditional 9×13 lasagna recipe, no matter how many spinning classes I go to in one day.

There are days that I want lasagna and am not in the mood to throw a party in order to justify cooking one.

So if you are anything like me, this recipe is for you. It’s great. You get to have lasagna and you even have 2 servings leftover for lunches during the week.

 

For this lasagna, I grated the fresh mozzarella that I bought when I went up to Amish country a few weeks ago -sooooo good.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves 3.

1/2 recipe of Mario Batali’s bechamel sauce with an added 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage
(2.5 T butter, 2 T flour, 2 cups milk, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1/2 t sage, pinch of salt)

5-6 lasagna noodles, uncooked (traditional, aka not no-boil)

8oz chopped spinach, wilted

1 lb butternut squash, diced, roasted for 20 minutes at 400

4oz fresh grated mozzarella

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan and make the first layer:
Spread 1/3 of the bechamel in the bottom of the pan. Break the lasagna noodles so as to cover the bottom of the bechamel-covered pan, then distribute 1/2 of the butternut squash over the noodles. Evenly spread 1/2 of the spinach over the squash and then sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese evenly over the spinach.

For the second layer:
Layer the noodles, 1/3 of the bechamel, 1/2 of the  butternut, 1/2 of the spinach and 1/3 of the cheese.

For the final layer:
Layer the noodles, 1/3 of the bechamel, and 1/3 of the cheese.

[FREEZING DIRECTIONS: Now is the time to tightly wrap the loaf pan in cling wrap and place in the freezer until you are ready to cook it (I froze mine for a couple of weeks). When you are ready to eat it, take the pan out and put it in the fridge for a day to thaw, or set on counter for a few hours, at which point you can proceed to the cooking directions below.]

Cover the loaf pan with tinfoil and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Enjoy!

This recipe can easily be multiplied for a 9×13 or any other size pan. Lasagna is more of an art than a science, so experiment. Just don’t skip on sauce, as that is what will cook your noodles (since you are not pre-boiling them).

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

Just in time for halloween, these pumpkin snacks are a fun take on the original rice crispy treat and they come together in well under half an hour.

I hope you had a good time attending all those Halloween parties. I know I did! I searched pinterest for a simple costume and ended up going as the Morton Salt girl (yellow shirt, skirt, and shoes with a purple umbrella) and went to a friend’s house for some fun with my classmates. What did you do/dress up as?

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats
Makes one 9×13 pan

3 T butter
5 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup pureed , pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
6 1/2 cups rice crispies
2 cups chocolate chips

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Stir in spice and pumpkin and extract. Remove from heat.

2. Add rice crispies; stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Let cool.

4. In a microwave, melt 2 cups chocolate chips for several intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between each, until melted. Spread with spatula over top of rice crispies. Let cool. Cut into bars and serve.

Chocolate Chip Malt Cookies

Milk and cookies. Always a winning combination.

All I can say about these cookies is that you should not make these if you have absolutely no desire to experience heaven on earth. So all you people who are content with walking around in a dull and dreary world filled with no joy, not even a smile, should stay far, far away from these cookies, ok?

But, if you are one of the enlightened who understands just what the most perfect, chewy, soft, moist cookie can do to increase the goodness in the world, ready your mixers and start your ovens. I made these in my PJ’s with my roommate’s beautiful granddaughter on Saturday morning and had a blast experimenting with the proper amount of malted milk powder to chocolate ratio (lots of sticky faces and very happy taste buds). These are great to bring to a party, btw, but they won’t last long, so beware =).

Glamour shot for my new favorite cookies!

Chocolate Malted Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup malted milk powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed until well blended. Stir in the milk chocolate chips.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on pans 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Harvest Tart Inspired by David Lebovitz

One of my favorite mindful-yoga instructors presented our yoga class with a thought-provoking observation recently about sensation and judgement. Now, ponder-worthy statements are not unusual when I practice yoga with this instructor, but this one struck me as something particularly pivotal.

When we experience a sensation, we often find ourselves immediately compelled to decide whether or not we like it, whether or not it is painful or pleasant. With the decision to label a situation or sensation negatively, we begin to allow tension to build up around the area. If we were to let go of the need to choose a “good” or “bad” stance on a sensation, however, and simply acknowledge it and choose to experience and explore it, perhaps we could experience it a new way that we did not know existed previously.

I feel like that mode of thinking can be applied to not just to physical experiences, but also in social and emotional contexts.  I believe I will try to meditate on this concept as I get closer to graduation and I find tension from various sources beginning to build in my life.

Perfect dessert for a fall day

Now that you have taken time to focus and meditate a little, perhaps share the open-mindedness with this lovely Autumn-themed tart. So no judging its contents or value, simply allow yourself to experience the flavors, textures, temperatures, and other subtleties that come.

Also, in case you’re wondering what the cinnamon roll-like things are in the picture above, they are leftover pie crust that I rolled out flat, spread cinnamon sugar on, and then rolled up and sliced. My mom used to do that when I was a little girl. I think they were my favorite part about baking a pie -even more so than the actual pie. They were mini cinnamon rolls for a mini-size little girl. They were perfect and they cooked in all of 8 minutes or so, so there was hardly any waiting involved compared with the hour it takes to bake a pie. I miss baking pies with my mom. Perhaps, after I graduate and while I look for a job, she and I can spend some quality mother-daughter pie-making time in the kitchen.

Harvest Tart
Adapted from David Lebovitz

400 grams (3 1/4 cup) flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1 cup + 1 tablespoon butter (9oz), chilled

2 large apples
1 dry quart concord grapes*
8-10 fresh figs
Handful of walnuts
1 cup plain greek yogurt (I use Wallaby, it’s smoother and sweeter than most)
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey

*if you are lazy like me and don’t mind crunching a few seeds, just wash and put them in the pie; if you are not lazy and don’t like a crunchy seed in your pie, you will be happier if you de-seed the grapes before putting them in the pie.

1. To make the dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and mix together with your hands or using a pastry blender until it’s in small pieces no larger than the size of corn kernels.

2. Add one egg and the water, and mix until the dough holds together. Divide the dough into two balls,  place one in the fridge to chill while you work with the other. Roll the dough ball (the one not in the fridge, duh) out on a lightly floured surface until round and big enough to lay in deep pie tin with edges about a centimeter or two hanging over (enough to pinch together with the top layer of pie dough later).

3. Move rolled out pie dough into the pie tin. Prepare the filling by slicing the apples into eighths. Place the apples in a layer in the pie dough, then top with figs, walnuts, and grapes.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, egg, sugar, and honey and pour it over the fruit and nuts. Roll out the chilled ball of dough. into a circle big enough to cover the pie as the second layer. Place second pie dough layer on top of the filling and pinch its edges together with the edges of the filled/bottom pie dough.

(When making tarts like this, I often brush the dough with melted butter to help it stick.)

6. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake in a 425Fº (218ºC) oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the top of the dough is browned and the fruit is cooked through, which you can verify by poking the center with a paring knife; when done, it should meet no resistance.

(Note: During baking, the walnuts may darken. This is a rustic touch and typical. If you are concerned, you can drape the tart with foil if they become too dark for your taste.)

7. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool down a bit before serving.

Serving: It might be hard to get a clean slice from this juicy tart, so feel free to serve slabs into bowls (and with ice cream!)