Pumpkin Custard with Cookie Crumble Crust and Bourbon Chantilly Cream

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If you were planning on making a pumpkin pie for that little holiday we have coming up next week, I have an alternative for you. All the creamy, custard-y, fall-spiced deliciousness of pumpkin pie, but without breaking out your food processor, getting flour all over your countertops, rolling out any crust, etc. And not a single can of evaporated milk. Sound good? I thought so too, especially when my batch yielded 10 individual custards instead of 8 and I was able to sample two one and still have 8, aka a full pie’s worth of servings, leftover.

Thanks to the blog post that introduced me to this cake, I ordered the “Rustic Fruit Desserts” cookbook this past June. As with most of my impulsive cookbook purchases, I had already forgotten about it by the time it arrived on my doorstep two days later. And as also with most of my impulsive cookbook purchases, I flipped through it and then put it in a pile of things I absolutely intended to carefully read and/or do something with ASAP, where of course it lay buried until a week ago. But it was meant to be, because I rediscovered it this week, in mid-November. I’m not sure pumpkin custards would have spoken to me as strongly back in June.

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We’ve done piecakecookies, granolamuffinscinnamon rollsbreadbread pudding, soup…..but I don’t think there’s such a thing as too many pumpkin recipes, especially when everyone’s favorite holiday is a week away. At least let’s hope not, since that list makes me realize that this is B&B’s 10th (!!!) pumpkin recipe. Aside from the pie tin and the pastry crust, this custard looks a lot like pumpkin pie – and as it turns out, tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. But even better, if that’s possible. And the best part is it takes literally 15 minutes to throw together (not counting the hour in the oven and the minimum 5 hours chilling in the fridge once it’s out of the oven – so it does require a bit of planning… and of course the potential trip to Crate and Barrel for whatever number of ramekins it takes to get you from the number you can dig up in your cupboards to 8).

The recipe as written calls for vanilla shortbread cookies for the crust – and the cookbook includes a recipe for them. I’m leaving it out here because I used a combination of store-bought gingersnaps and graham crackers instead (the recipe suggested gingersnaps as an alternative, I love a good graham cracker crust, and – confession – I first learned of the gingersnap/graham cracker combo from a recipe for a really yummy pumpkin cheesecake tart from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook that I’ve made every year since her cookbook came out, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever). You could use any type of cookie you like, however.

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Re: Chantilly Cream. Doesn’t that sound fancy? Turns out it’s just sweetened whipped cream. (As if we weren’t already sweetening our whipped cream?) The recipe told me to whip the cream by hand, which I tried to do but it didn’t take me long to switch to an electric mixer. Add a little sugar and vanilla halfway through, and perhaps a little brandy (as the recipe suggests), or bourbon (as I did). I’m not a huge bourbon drinker but I try to keep a bottle of Knob Creek on hand at all times, mainly for cooking but also because every once in awhile you have a friend that wants a glass of bourbon, and don’t real adults keep a fully stocked bar? Of course when I went to look for my Knob Creek as I was making the whipped cream I realized I was out (too many peach dumplings this summer!), but I did find a mini bottle of Maker’s Mark in my freezer. No idea where it came from, but it turned out to be delicious. I only used 1/2 teaspoon, and it was perfect – I would definitely recommend adding it if you have any on hand, although maybe not if you’re going to be feeding this to small children (I don’t think 1/2 teaspoon of alcohol in one cup of cream, which yields 2 cups once whipped, would be enough to hurt anyone when a single portion would work out to be 1/8th-1/10th of 1/2 teaspoon, aka a very trace amount, but just FYI. If I had offered the bowl of whipped cream to my one year old nephew I think he might have eaten the whole bowl, so just something to keep in mind).

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One Year Ago: Pumpkin, Sage, and Brown Butter Loafs
Two Years Ago: Carrot Mac and Cheese
Pumpkin, Previously: Cookies, Granola, Soup, Bread Pudding, Muffins, Cake, Pie, Bread, Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Custard with Cookie Crumb Crust, from Rustic Fruit Desserts

Serves 8-10

1 1/4 cups crushed cookie of your choice (original recipe suggests vanilla shortbread, I used a combination of graham crackers and gingersnaps but either would be fine on their own)
2 cups half-and-half
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses (recipe suggests Barbados, I used Grandma’s because I had it in the fridge)
2 cups pureed cooked pumpkin, or 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (note: not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Chantilly cream (recipe below), extra cookies, and cinnamon, for garnish

Chantilly Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Recipe suggests adding Brandy, I used 1/2 teaspoon Bourbon (you could up it to 1 teaspoon but it might be pretty boozy)

To make the Custard: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Divide crushed cookies among 8 5-ounce ramekins. In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a light simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a bowl, then whisk in both sugars and the molasses. Slowly pour the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Stir the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture, whisking just enough to combine ingredients; this will keep air bubbles to a minimum, which contributes to a creamier texture when baked.

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a 6-cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pour lip, then strain the custard into the measuring cup. Distribute the custard evenly among the ramekins, filling them almost to the top. Place a large roasting pan on the center rack of the oven, put the ramekins in the roasting pan, and carefully add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custards for 50-60 minutes, or until puffed slightly on the edges and almost set when jiggled. Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan and place on a wire rack. Cool completely on the rack before covering lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 5 hours and up to 2 days. Serve garnished with a small dollop of Chantilly cream.

Storage: The custard itself is best if eaten within 2 days, but any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

To make the Chantilly Cream: Chill a metal bowl and whisk (or beaters). Pour the cream into the bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla (and bourbon or brandy, if using) and continue whipping the cream until it hangs but does not fall from the whisk. Alternatively, if you are using an electric mixer, start whipping the cream on low speed, then gradually increase the speed until the mixer is on medium speed. (Recipe recommends whipping the cream by hand so that you have “more control over the process.” I tried that to begin with, but my arm got tired well before any soft peaks were forming so I happily relinquished control and switched to an electric mixer).

Storage: Chantilly cream is best if served immediately. You may refrigerate it in  covered container for up to four hours, but you may need to rewhip some of the cream at the bottom of the bowl before serving.

Top chilled custards with Chantilly cream, sprinkle cream with cinnamon, and serve with a gingersnap on the side. Yum!

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Friday Faves: Halloween Edition

IMG_3980{my two favorite things}

Happy Halloween Eve! What are your plans for tomorrow? Any fun traditions? I’m looking forward to spending the evening with my niece and nephew, especially since it’s baby Harper’s first Halloween. She’s going as a ladybug (contrary to the photo above, where she and Cooper are just props for my Cat in the Hat costume), and Coop is going to be a little pumpkin. One costume is homemade and has been in the works for months, and one was scavenged from the last few remaining options in his size at Pottery Barn Kids a week ago (anyone who knows my sister or my sister-in-law can guess whose is whose), but they are both going to be adorable. I can’t wait until they’re old enough to trick-or-treat, but for the time being it will be nice to stay warm and dry inside handing out candy, as the forecast for tomorrow night looks pretty bad. Wishing everyone a lovely Halloween weekend, full of lots of treats and hopefully waterproof costumes! Some links and pics (a little baby-heavy, as that’s all I’ve been doing the past few days!):

  • Cooper is obsessed with spiders lately (and cookies too, incidentally) – I may need to make these for him.
  • Homemade Almond Joys – one of the many things on my to-do list for this Halloween that just didn’t happen (along with carving a pumpkin!) – but I’m thinking if I write it down here maybe I’ll hold myself to it for next year. I did make her homemade Twix a few years ago and they were to die for.
  • How cute are these Mummy Cupcakes?
  • I’m going to make this tomorrow night.
  • Lena Dunham’s costumes through the years – so funny!!

IMG_3997{favorite halloween candy}

IMG_3868{little skeleton buns in their honest diapers}

IMG_3853{cookie treats for friends and neighbors}

IMG_3988{coordinating cuddles (compare with last year – sob!)}

St. Patty’s Day Faves

photo 2-32 {elf (because I don’t have lucky), hope, shine}

Happy St. Patty’s Day!! This was supposed to be a Friday Faves post last week, but of course I didn’t have my act together so it’s a Tuesday Faves this week.  I hope everyone has fun plans for the holiday, which is one of my favorites! I’m excited to put together an outfit this morning, and treat myself to a green beer or two tonight. Some fun thematic links and pics in the meantime:

  • Homemade Mint Milanos – yes please!
  • So sad I didn’t think ahead and make this this year – bookmarking for SPD 2016!
  • If only I had known Harper would be here by now, I would have ordered this for her.
  • I pinned these biscuits years ago and have yet to make them – also on next year’s to do list.
  • One of my very favorite B&B posts.

photo 1-38{and because I’m a complete glassybaby nerd: a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
everlasting, pumpkin, taxi, grass, blue bird, sweet pea, grace}

photo 2-30 {St. Patty’s Day cookie fun (with stencils!)}

photo 3-18{gorgeous greens}

photo 1-36 {and presents for the babies! books, bottles, hat (Coop’s dad is a C’s fan), bow}

Gingerbread Maple Muffins

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I looked at my calendar this morning and realized the Christmas countdown has officially begun. Two weeks from today! Are you ready? I have good years and bad years in terms of Christmas preparedness – some years I have my shopping done well before Black Friday; other years, not so much.  Last year I had 200 Christmas cards stamped, addressed, and ready to go out on December 1st, yet somehow I found myself at the mall on Christmas Eve with quite a few people left on my list. This year, I’m not even sending cards, but my shopping is complete and everything is wrapped and under the tree. Some presents even have personalized wrapping paper (because I couldn’t pass up the Minted sale entirely). All that’s left to do is bake a few hostess gifts – and come up with an idea for the cookie exchange I’m going to on Monday. And while I probably should be working on those two projects, I saw these muffins on Instagram the other day and decided I should probably make them instead.

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I just started to write the sentence “I’m not really a gingerbread fan, except for…” and then listed quite a few things – so perhaps I’m a bigger gingerbread fan than I once thought.  Gingerbread lattes are one of my favorite things about the holiday season, although I’m only allowed to get one per week (have you seen the calories?) – so a one-pump-gingerbread Americano is my almost-as-delightful alternative. I also really love gingerbread biscotti. Outside of Starbucks, though, I don’t normally get too excited about gingerbread. My mom usually makes it for dessert on Christmas night, and it’s delicious and festive, but I always thought once a year was enough for me. However, when these muffins popped up on my Instagram feed last week, I wondered if there might be a place for gingerbread beyond Starbucks syrup.

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The answer is yes. These muffins are light and airy, not too sweet, and not too spicy – the perfect treat for a cold and rainy December day. They also couldn’t be easier to make – I had them in the oven less than ten minutes after I confirmed I had all the ingredients on hand, and out of the oven twenty minutes later. Which means that in half an hour you can bake a delicious homemade treat and make your house smell amazing and Christmas-y. Incidentally, they would also be perfect for hostess gifts – as muffins or as adorable mini loaves (and they’re a lot easier than the homemade marshmallows I’ve been eyeing). So no matter how on top of your Christmas prep you may or may not be, these muffins are a great way to get you in the spirit – and possibly a way to cross something off your to-do list at the same time.  Happy Baking!

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Muffins, previously: blueberry, pumpkin, pear hazelnut, carrot zucchini

Gingerbread Maple Muffins, from How Sweet It Is

Yield: 12-16 muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
turbinado sugar for topping

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners (or spray with PAM for baking). In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking pwoder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and egg. Once combined, whisk in the molasses, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir in the melted butter until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined – do not overmix! Before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, stir in the milk until you have a smooth batter.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling them up about 3/4 of the way full. Top each with a generous sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffin tops are golden brown and fully set.

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