Pumpkin Chai Latte

It’s officially fall! My favorite season… Pumpkins, apples, apple picking, foliage, scarf weather and we’re closer to my other favorite time of the year (the holiday season). I think I have covered it all. And while pumpkin flavored everything has been on store shelves for a few weeks now and I will admit that I did bake a few things that are pumpkin flavored, I have waited until now to post anything pumpkin related. And I am starting small with this Pumpkin Chai Latte. Before I get to the latte though, I just want to touch on the pumpkin flavored phenomena. It’s a bit out of control! It’s so excessive that I am not really tempted to get anything. I did pick up some Pumpkin Flavored Cheerios that remind me more of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios than anything, and some Pumpkin Fruit Butter. I used to love Pumpkin Flavored Milanos and I even enjoyed some pumpkin spice almonds I picked up a year or two ago, but now, I prefer the baked pumpkin flavored treats I make more than anything.

Now, back to the latte. I began by heating milk and steeping a bag of chai tea in the milk for about 5 minutes. And here’s something I learned and maybe some of you knew this but somehow I didn’t… By steeping the chai tea bag in milk I had a chai tea latte. It’s one of the few things I order at Starbucks but I am pretty excited to know now that I can make it at home now. It just needs a little sugar. Once the milk was read I whisked in pumpkin puree and a pinch each of pumpkin spice and honey. You can sub sugar if you prefer your latte on the sweeter side. I then strained it and enjoyed!

Pumpkin Chai Latte

Ingredients:

1 cup hot milk

1 chai tea bag

1/4 pumpkin puree

pinch of pumpkin spice

pinch of honey

Directions:

Steep the tea bag in the milk for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice & honey. Strain and enjoy.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

If necessity is the mother of invention is it safe to say then that random leftover ingredients are the building blocks to great recipes? Just a thought! And when I say leftover, I mean leftover, half finished, not wanting it to go bad, and somewhere in the middle of all that ingredients. That’s pretty much how this Banana Ricotta Cheesecake came about. I had a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge that was quickly approaching its expiration date and two bananas on the table that were quite ripe and I just didn’t feel like making pasta or a banana bread. After some Google searches I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to make or I found recipes that required ingredients I just didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to buy. So, I figured since I bake enough it was about time that I tried going without a recipe, okay, not completely without one. I did some major tweaking to a Ricotta Cheesecake I had made before. But, I think this is still somewhat original.

Unfortunately, my cheesecake did crack in the middle. It wasn’t so bad when I first took it out of the oven, but, as it cooled it got bigger. Oh well!

But, after slicing it and plating it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that unfortunate crack was nothing to be bothered by as I am happy to say I was quite pleased with how the cheesecake came out. The banana flavor was subtle but still detectable, not as strong as banana bread but not as faint as a hint. And no, in case you are wondering there were no traces of banana in the cheesecake itself since I was sure to blend the mashed banana, sugar and cream cheese until they were smooth.

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 ripe bananas, mashed

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Process the graham crackers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the butter and process until blended. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. All to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the mashed bananas, cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the ricotta and vanilla extract and continue beat until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each one.

Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Margherita Naan Bread Pizza

Naan bread pizza… One of the easiest ways to make homemade pizza. I usually top mine with mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions and black olives, but, after seeing this recipe on Instagram I knew I had to try it.

To start, I prepped the toppings…

Next, I assembled the naan bread with all of the toppings…

I then baked it in a preheated 350 F oven for 8 minutes, until the cheese melted and then switched the oven to the broil setting and broiled the pizza for about 2 minutes, until the cheese began to bubble.

After the letting the pizza rest for a few minutes I then sliced and enjoyed it! This is definitely a much easier way to make pizza. And trust me, I’ve tried quite a few different ways.

 

Margherita Naan Bread Pizza

Ingredients:

2 naan breads

olive oil

1 green onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 sliced fresh mozzarella (8oz.)

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

2 slices prosciutto, torn into pieces

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

salt and ground pepper

*Recipe can easily be halved

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the naan breads on the baking sheet and brush the top with olive oil.

Spread the green onion and garlic over the naan bread. Then top each one with 4 slices of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the tomato slices – season the tomato with salt and pepper. Top the tomato with the prosciutto, basil and parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 8 -10 minutes, until the pizza is crispy and the cheese had begun to melt. Switch the oven to broil and broil the pizza for 2 – 3 minutes until the cheese has begun to bubble.

Recipe from Allrecipes

Chocolate Chip Muffins

It seems like I am on a muffin kick… Last week I brought you Blueberry Crumb Muffins and this week I am bringing you Chocolate Chip Muffins. The real reason why I made these muffins… I was going on a road trip and thought they would be a good snack/treat/breakfast for the road. When you have chocolate chips in a muffin they can be for anything I think. While this recipe was written for 12 servings (aka a cupcake size muffin) I opted to make 6 large ones as I didn’t want that many muffins for the road.

 

Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • Servings: 12 small or 6 large
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425F and line a muffin tin with liners and then spray it with baking or cooking spray. This is just in case the muffins bake onto the pan so you can easily remove them.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips, set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and fold together until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake at 425F for 5 minutes and then lower the oven to 375F and bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

 

Recipe from Little Sweet Baker

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

Do you ever notice that you don’t normally see oddball (maybe that’s not the best word choice) muffin flavors like you do for cupcakes? I guess since muffins are traditionally a breakfast food people don’t want to eat anything to out of the ordinary that early in the day. I don’t know if I would eat a lavender vanilla muffin as quickly as I would a lavender vanilla cupcake! Today, I am bringing you a tried and true muffin flavor… Blueberry. Maybe another day I’ll make something a little more adventurous… Pumpkin Spice season is quickly approaching and I am sure that would make the base for a delicious muffin.

What makes these muffins a real stand-out is the streusel topping. It’s an added layer of yumminess and sweetness.

 

 

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

  • Servings: 8 small or 5 large
  • Print

Ingredients:

Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup milk*

1 cup fresh blueberries

*I used whole milk

 

Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line the muffin tin with liners and then spray the top of the muffin pan with baking spray. Doing this will allow you to remove the muffins easily if they happen to risr and bake onto the pan.

Crumb Topping:

Mix together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork or with your hands until well combines, set aside.

Muffins:

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Measure the vegetable oil in a measuring up, add the egg and enough milk to bring the mixture to 1 cup. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. Fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups to the top and sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Recipe from Allrecipes

Blackberry Mille-Feuille

So, you may be wondering what exactly a Mille-Feuille is? I know I was wondering that when a friend tagged me in an Instagram post for Ree Drummond’s Marvelous Mille-Feuille. Translated from French it means one thousand sheets, layer, or leaves. Still wondering? Well, it’s a dessert consisting of layers of puff pastry and cream… Think a Napoleon. For this version though I added in some blackberries along with a custard made with mascarpone cheese… YUM! A slight variation from Ree Drummond’s as she used raspberries. Why did I use blackberries? Well, it was because the recipe called for raspberry liqueur and since I still had some blackberry liqueur from last year’s White Chocolate Blackberry Tiramisu I decided to swap out the berries.

I began by thawing a frozen sheet of puff pastry according to the package directions – I used Pepperidge Farm’s Frozen Puff Pastry. Once it was defrosted I rolled it into a 12 x 15 inch rectangle and then cut it into three 12 x 5 inch rectangles. I placed the three pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet and pricked it with a work and then placed it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (alternatively you could place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

While the puff pastry was in the fridge I preheated the oven to 425 F. Once the puff pastry was perfectly chilled, I sprinkled each rectangle with confectioners’ sugar…

And baked it in the oven from about 15 minutes. Until the puff pastry was a golden brown and puffy. I the transferred them to a wire rack to cool.

While the puff pastry cooled, I made the filling. In the bowl of my stand mixer I added confectioners’ sugar, mascarpone cheese, heavy cream and vanilla paste and whisked it until soft peaks formed. I then added in the blackberry liqueur and lemon zest and whisked for a few more second until the ingredients were combined.

It was then time to assemble. I placed a dab of the whipped mixture on a serving plate and place one of the puff pastry’s on the plate glaze-side down. I spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the puff pastry and then arranged half of the blackberries on top.

I repeated this with another puff pastry rectangle and the remaining mascarpone mixture and berries. I then topped it with the remaining puff pastry rectangle and before serving I dusted it with more confectioners’ sugar.

Verdict… It was a hit! I can’t wait to make it again using freshly picked berries… Maybe I’ll try making it with raspberries next.

Blackberry Mille-Feuille

Ingredients:

1 14-oz. sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting the pastry and the finished dish

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons blackberry liqueur

zest of 1 lemon

3 – 4 cups fresh blackberries

 

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unfold the pastry and roll it to a 12 x 15 inch rectangle and then cut into three 12 x 5 inch rectangles. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and prick the pastry with a fork and chill for 10 minutes in the freezer or 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Dust the pastry with confectioners’ sugar and bake until golden brown and puffy, about 15 minutes. All to cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.

In a bowl add the confectioners’ sugar, mascarpone, heavy cream and vanilla paste/extract, beat until soft peaks form – If using a stand mixer use the whisk attachment. Add the blackberry liqueur and lemon zest and continue mixing for an additional 10 seconds to ensure the ingredients are all combined.

To Assemble: Dab a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on the serving plate and place one piece of the pastry on the plate – glaze-sized down (the side you sprinkled the sugar on). Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture on the pastry and smooth it out evenly. Arrange half of the blackberries on top and repeat with another piece of pasty and the remaining mascarpone mixture and blackberries. Top with the remaining pastry piece and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe adapted from Ree Drummond

S’mores Icebox Cake

Happy National S’mores Day! Isn’t it insane how there’s a day for everything?!?! Today is also National Lazy Day so if you feel like doing nothing you have a decent excuse. And if you want to prepare yourself for tomorrow… August 11th is National Son’s and Daughter’s Day, National President Joke Day and National Raspberry Bombe Day. And if you are so incline to go further than that check out the National Day Calendar website. So, would you believe that even though I have been sharing s’mores related desserts on my blog for the past couple of years I had never had a s’more until this past weekend? I can’t really say why, maybe it’s because I have never been camping, but, that’s not a good excuse. Truth is, I don’t care for marshmallows that much. But, after making this cake I realized that I like toasted marshmallows! I guess it’s like toasting bread, somehow it just tastes better that way.

Before assembling the cake I made ganache, chocolate whipped cream and marshmallow whipped cream. In case you are wondering at the moment and you can’t wait to get to the directions, to make the marshmallow whipped cream I roasted marshmallows in the oven under the broiler, let them cool and then whipped them with heavy cream. I am beginning to learn that you can make any type of whipped cream. I recently came across a recipe with coconut whipped cream using just the coconut solids from a refrigerated can of coconut milk. It’s essentially a vegan version of whipped cream, but, nonetheless I really want to try it.

Next, I assembled the cake. After lining a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap – leaving an overhang on the long sides – I placed a single layer of chocolate graham crackers along the bottom. Breaking the pieces as necessary. Now, I am sure if you want more of an “authentic” s’mores flavor you could swap out the chocolate graham crackers for honey (or cinnamon) flavored ones. Truth be told, these chocolate graham crackers aren’t available everywhere. And did know they make vanilla ones now? I am really hoping this isn’t going to become like M&M’s or Oreos where there are more flavors than you can name or remember. Back to the cake though… Once I had a layer of graham crackers I then spread half of the marshmallow whipped cream over them and drizzled it with a few tablespoons of the chocolate ganache.

I repeated the layers again this time with the chocolate whipped cream, and then another with the marshmallow whipped cream and one last one with the chocolate whipped cream. Finally, I topped it with a layer of the graham crackers. I folded the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerated it overnight. I also placed the remaining ganache in the fridge as well. And, I placed 2 whole graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin until they were fine crumbs.

The next day, before removing the cake from the fridge, I heated the ganache in the microwave until it was pourable and let it cool for an hour. I also cut 9 marshmallows in half and placed them on a greased baking sheet in a tight 3-by-6 rectangle and broiled them until they were toasted and bubbling. I also let this cool for an hour.

To finish the cake, I inverted it onto a platter and then pressed the chocolate crumbs onto the sides of it. I poured the leftover ganache over the top and spread it into a thin layer – allowing the excess to fall over the sides of the cake. And finally, I removed the marshmallow rectangle from the baking sheet and placed it on top of the cake. And there you have it, a S’mores Icebox Cake.

And you can see after slicing it the layers were distinct. This cake was a hit… especially those roasted marshmallows. My favorite part! I think if I make this again I will opt to use the honey or cinnamon graham crackers just so that the chocolate isn’t the focal point of the cake.

Here are some more s’mores related desserts:

S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

S’mores Brownies 

Malted S’mores Ice Cream

 

S'mores Icebox Cake

Ingredients:

4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

24 marshmallows

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

16-18 whole chocolate graham crackers

unsalted butter, for the baking sheet

 

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.

Make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a small bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes until stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Butter a baking sheet, then arrange 15 marshmallows on the baking sheet. Broil until toasted and bubbling, 30 second to 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

Combine 1 cup heavy cream, the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Combine the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and the broiled marshmallows in another medium and beat with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Don’t worry if bits of marshmallow remain.

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 4-inch overhang on the long sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of chocolate graham crackers, break the crackers to fit as needed. Spread half of the marshmallow mixture over the graham crackers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the chocolate ganache. Repeat this step, but using the chocolate whipped cream instead of the marshmallow one.  Repeat again using the marshmallow whipped cream and then finally the chocolate whipped cream. Top with a layer of graham crackers and then wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Crush the remaining graham crackers into finely ground crumbs by placing them in a resealable plastic bag and rolling them with a rolling pin, set aside. Place the remaining ganache in the refrigerator.

About an hour before serving preheat the broiler. Warm the reserved ganache in the microwave until pourable and set aside for an hour to cool. Butter a baking sheet and cut the remaining 9 marshmallows in half and arrange them on the baking sheet in a tight 3 x 6 rectangle – the marshmallows should be touching. Broil until toasted and bubbling and then let cool for an hour.

Invert the cake onto a platter, discard the plastic wrap and press the graham cracker crumbs onto the sides of the cake. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread into a thin layer letting the it drip down the sides. Finally, remove the toasted marshmallow rectangle in one piece and place on top of the cake.

Recipe from Food Network