Thursday, October 28, 2010

the harvest x5: chocolate gingerbread

I'm into my final wedding stretch of the year - two left in the next two weeks and then I'm done for months. No more travel itineraries or rental cars, no sparkly shoes and matching earrings. I've seen southern weddings and midwestern weddings and high-altitude weddings and am adding South Jersey and North Carolina this month. But even though my real weddings are almost done for the season, I can sneak away whenever I want and click click click through layers of taffeta and piles of letterpress invitations. It's kind of my out-of-the-kitchen guilty pleasure (and let's face it, any girl who tells you it's not fun is downright lying).

I mean look at THIS!

{photo via Style Me Pretty}

And I mean, pulled pork sliders?! This is a couple after my own heart.
There's so much deliciousness that surrounds weddings it's almost too much to handle... almost.

{photo via Style Me Pretty}

This weekend I'm wearing a chocolatey brown harvest dress. With pink shoes. So this week's harvest recipe? Chocolate gingerbread that turned out the same color as my J.Crew a-line.


Chocolate Gingerbread
adapted from Lara Ferroni

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
6 oz. plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and line full sized loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Mix in the yogurt and molasses. Add the flour mixture and mix just until you get a smooth batter. Fold in the chocolate chips being careful not to overmix.

Bake until a cake tester comes clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the harvest x4: pumpkin chocolate chunk muffins

Do you ever feel that life is passing by a mile a minute and you can't seem to reach out and grab hold of it before it's passing you by again? Like you have to remember to breathe and take long showers and put creamy lotion on your feet before you go to bed and do all of those luxurious things that you should be doing anyway but easily forget about?

Lately I've been doing 4 things: working, eating, drinking wine, and running. The first isn't an option because I need to pay my ridiculous NYC rent each month. The second is required for survival despite the fact that I could probably live off of my thighs for the next month if I didn't eat. The third is a side-effect of the first two and I haven't been shy about it lately. And the last one is a must if I want to smile after I cross the finish line next month.

Did I tell you I'm running the Philadelphia Half-Marathon on November 21st? No? Well, I'm running the Philadelphia Half-Marathon next month like I do every November and I've been a running fool the past few weeks getting myself whipped into shape. So between working, eating and drinking with friends and running there hasn't been time for much else.

But this past weekend I reminded myself to breathe deeply, I took a hot shower after my long Sunday run (sorry, Earth) and even put expensive lotion on my feet before I went to bed. And it felt great. Really great. Mental note: add in all of the above somewhere between working and eating and drinking and running. It feels awesome.

The one thing I have consistently fit into the schedule the past few weeks has been the Harvest celebration. I mean, before we know it it's gonna be 30 degrees and leaves will be crackling under our feet instead of dangling in shades of autumn above our heads. And it's almost November, can you believe it? November!

To slow down the time a bit I put together some Harvest muffins for a treat. I brought them into work and even though they are a snap to make, my co-workers said they might be the best thing I've ever brought in. Ever? Forever-ever? Maybe they're Harvest-starved.

But they are delicious, and the word muffin doesn't even work for these. A muffin implies a breakfasty-pastry-thing, and these... these are divine. Don't think about it too hard, just make them and enjoy the "best-ever" comments from those lucky enough to get a bite.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Adapted from Cooking On The Side

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Heat oven to 350 F.

Grease muffin tin, or use foil or paper baking cups.

Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Break eggs into another bowl. Add pumpkin and melted butter, and whisk until blended. Stir in chocolate chunks. Pour over dry ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until puffed and springy to the touch in the center. Turn out onto a rack to cool. Makes 12 regular muffins.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

the harvest x3: pumpkin roll

Ok, I think I lost some of you with the Betty Crocker post. I know, it was kinda amateur hour. But it was late on a Sunday? That's my only excuse.

Today's Harvest post comes from somewhere slightly (?) less lame but equally bizarre. Each Thursday my office distributes the week's People magazine. I know the People brand is as old as the hills and a success benchmark for all other celebrity/lifestyle weekly magazines, but it's never been my favorite (then again I don't read US Weekly or Life & Style either, just not so much my thang).

So I flip through each week to see what everyone's wearing and catch the occasional glimpse of K-Stew and R-Patz - and then pass it along to my celeb-loving friends (read: bf).

Last week as I was flipping I came across a recipe which lead to me haggardly ripping out the page before anyone caught me in the act. Because it was a recipe in People magazine. And it was by Kristin Chenoweth.

You know her as Glinda the Good Witch from Wicked or Fran from Promises, Promises but I know her as pint-sized, Mr. Schue-crazed, alcoholic April Rhodes from Glee. It's one of my favorites (Rocky Horror next week OMGGG!!!!) and I couldn't pass up her recipe for her Mom's harvesty Pumpkin Roll.

Despite the odd-ball instructions (roll in a tea towel?) I figured if Kristin could do it so could I and I gave it a shot the other night. My jelly-roll pan is about as small as she is so my roll turned out on the thick side but it was delicious nonetheless, and perfect for a Harvesty night.

Plus, EVERYONE loves cream cheese frosting. Everyone, I tell you! My roll turned out just like the People photo and it would be the perfect hostess gift for a Harvesty gathering - the cut rounds of cake are just so swirly and divine!

Moral of the story is: don't be ashamed of your recipe. As we know, some A-listers like to bake (and cook and make ice cream), and if they can do it so can we!

Pumpkin Roll
by Kristin Chenoweth via People

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice

Sift together:
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp. butter
6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease and flour 15 x 10 x 2 inch jelly roll pan. Line pan with wax paper.

Beat eggs at high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.

Fold sifted ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter into pan and sprinkle with pecans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven. Let cake sit in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a clean tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Peel off wax paper. While cake is still warm, roll up in towel, lengthwise.

Beat filling ingredients until smooth. When cake is cool, unroll and spread with filling. Re-roll (without towel), cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

the harvest x2: apple crisp

What would a slew of Harvest recipes be worth without the quintessential apple crisp? This weekend bf and I drove out to Wilkens Farm to pick pumpkins (yes, because it was on the "Today" show last week) and came home with a 1/4 peck of Baldwin apples and lips crusted with apple cider doughnut sugar. What can I say, it's just that time of year.

After a couple long runs this morning (and a Steeler win!) bf and I had a lazy afternoon - sometimes you just need to relax on a Sunday (read: take a 2 hour nap). But it was a lovely evening for a stroll and after a crisp hour in Riverside Park we came home craving a Harvest sweet.

I perused the internet and found some great crisp recipes but they were all so... involved... for a Sunday night. In the end opted for an easy one from the Queen of homemade baking herself, Betty Crocker.

This was just as I remember Mom making when I was a kid. Turns out Betty knows what she's doing :)

Apple Crisp

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
vanilla ice cream, obviously

Heat oven to 375 F. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan.

Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.

Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with ice cream.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the harvest: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

As you know, I work in advertising at a magazine. And, more often than not, when asked the common question "What do you do?" my answer elicits ooh's and ahh's in green tones of jealousy. The growing popularity of Mad Men and movies like The Devil Wears Prada have something to do with it but the truth always disappoints. No, I don't work in the "accessories closet" or schedule photo shoots like Whitney and LC on The Hills. And I (sadly) don't have piles of Louboutins at my desk to match every outfit.

I like my job, but my everyday probably mirrors yours - I work in front of a computer from 9-6pm and often nibble a brown-bagged lunch at my desk while perusing my favorite baking blogs and wishing I was eating that instead of the extremely boring morsel I brought to work. And then I do it again the next day.

But, like many of you I have that one co-worker who makes makes me LOL, and takes trips with me to the cafe each morning to get our coffee fix, and persuades me to visit our favorite bartender Gabe now and again for a never-ending glass of wine after a long day.

And she's leaving! She's going here and it's a great opportunity and I'm thrilled for her (yadda yadda, blah blah)... really, I am. I'm just going to miss our daily coffee trips and raucous happy hours - so I'm dedicating this post to Colleen.

One thing that we both love is The Harvest. At this point we're so obsessed with anything harvest/fall/pumpkin/gourd/corn stalk/chilly/leafy/apple-y and caramel that we use the word as descriptor. There are "Harvest weddings" and "Harvest weekends" and then there is "Heaven On Earth," otherwise known as "The Harvest," which describes the time period between late September and early November.

We happen to be knee deep in The Harvest right now (swoon!) and today's recipe truly embodies Harvest-in-your-mouth... and it's a toast to Colleen on her new endeavor as she leaves me get coffee on my own. I wish you all the best. No, Really.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from George Duran via The Food Network

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups (12-oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter. Stir in the chips.

Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15-17 minutes or until cookies are brown around the edges. Remove cookie sheets from oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

[photos in this post courtesy of bf. not bad, eh?]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

sleep deprived: fat witch brownies

It's been one of those weeks that should leave me chained to my bed with a fever. One of those utterly exhausting weeks when you live for your bed at night and fight the urge to stay nestled deep inside when morning comes. One of those weeks where even baking is exhausting, despite the discovery of a great recipe. A week when I actually fell asleep on the couch waiting for my brownies to bake and woke up at 1:30am to a brownie brick in the oven.

But I made it to today and today is my Friday (!). I'm heading home to western Pennsylvania tomorrow morning and couldn't be happier with a long Columbus Day weekend in the 'Burgh. I'll be sleeping in. And eating out of my parents pantry. And grilling on their grill. And doing laundry in their washer/dryer. And probably buying (or baking with) a pumpkin and drinking apple cider at some point. Autumn, I love you.

For those of you who've had the opportunity to wander into Chelsea Market and let your noses guide you to Fat Witch, you'll appreciate this (and for the rest of you, you're in for a treat). Fat Witch makes some of the best brownies I've ever had and now (the Fat Witch cookbook was just released), I know why. GLORIOUS BUTTER. Was there ever really a doubt in my mind? I may have tried convincing myself it was the high-quality chocolate they used or the finest sugars available but let's face it, butter makes it better (despite what my thighs try to tell me).

I stumbled across the Original Witch recipe on Monday night after some impromptu carousing and in my particular state of mind decided that baking brownies at 10pm was a must. Obviously.

Like I said, my result was more brick-like than gooey brownie-like but that's my own fault. I cut out the middle of the pan to rescue a taste and that was it - these are EXACTLY like the little individually wrapped witches sold on 9th Avenue. And I bet they'd be much better minus the 6-7 glasses of red wine I had that night. Plus a glass of Prosecco.

These ARE decadent, but they're divine (and SO simple). Try them out! Apparently brownies are my thing lately.

[Sadly no photo since it was 1:30am and I was half-asleep by the time they finally came out of the oven, but you get the idea]

Fat Witch Brownies

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. unbleached flour
pinch of salt

Grease a 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool while you prepare the next step.

Cream the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.

Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix the batter gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

Stir in nuts or any extras.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake 33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with crumbs but not batter.

Remove from the oven and let cool on rack for 1 hour (do not fall asleep on your couch). Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 brownies.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

bake sale: cookies for kids' cancer

Baking Therapy is donating some sweet treats this week for a great cause. If you're in the midtown NYC area, check out the Cookies for Kids' Cancer bake sale this Thursday or Friday to pick up a snack and donate some dollars to a charity that needs it! Thanks to Brooke for getting me involved.

I'll be baking tomorrow night for the sale so leave me a comment with your requests/suggestions/cravings! I'll be back soon with a recipe post (and Pennsylvania harvest-inspiration to come this weekend)!
Creative Commons License
Baking Therapy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.