Cranberry Pecan Tart

Let the cranberry posts continue! I made this tart a couple years ago, using walnuts. I absolutely love pecan pie, so I figured I would give it a try with a different nut. The orange zest gives a nice hint of citrus to balance the sweetness of the filling and tartness of the cranberries. And the buttery crust is as delicious as it is easy – no rolling required!

Adapted from these two sources: Chow and TasteOfHome.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon  salt
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and salt until incorporated. Add the flour and stir until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Spread the dough into the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Poke the bottom of the crust all over with a toothpick (to allow steam to escape and avoid the crust bubbling up while baking). Line with foil or parchment and place pie weights on the bottom surface (if you have them…this will help prevent the shell from bubbling up or shrinking while baking). Bake about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool while making the filling.

½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon zested orange peel (I used one Clementine)
1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, butter and orange peel in a large bowl. Arrange nuts and cranberries evenly in bottom of crust; pour sugar mixture over the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Crust will be golden, edge of filling firm, and center is almost set. Cool on wire rack. Store in refrigerator until serving.

Before baking…

Buttery crust…

Aerial view!


Cut a slice and enjoy!

Banana Cinnamon Rolls

Every time I have bananas that get ripe before I can get around to eating them, I mash them and freeze them to make banana bread later. I’ve been looking for a different take on traditional banana bread, and thought cinnamon rolls made with bananas in the dough would be an excellent choice! These smelled great baking in the oven! Next time I think I’ll add some walnuts or pecans to the filling.

Inspired by this.

Banana rolls:

½ cup milk (warmed to about 100 degrees F)
¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed (about ¾ cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups bread flour (you can also use bread flour, all-purpose, and even about ½ cup whole wheat)

1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each of cloves, allspice, and ginger
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2  cups powdered sugar (approximate)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a 2-cup measuring glass, combine the milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes to proof.

To the yeast mixture, add the bananas, butter, oil, and egg.

In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the flour and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon until combined. Continue adding flour until it forms a dough that is not sticky.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes; a smooth dough will form. Place the dough ball into a lightly floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for an hour or two, or until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down. On a floured surface, roll the dough to about an 18 x 24 inches rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect).

For the filling, mix together the sugar and spices.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the dough rectangle with the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar mixture.

Roll up the dough along the long edge. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 even pieces.

Place the rolls into a greased 9×13 pan. Allow to rise for about 15 minutes or until they start to get puffy.

Bake in your preheated 350 F oven for 22 to 24 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before frosting.

For frosting, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork (or hand mixer). Spread evenly on the rolls.

Rolling out the dough…you can see the specks of banana seeds!

Brush with butter and then sprinkle with the spiced sugar.

Roll up the dough, starting with the long end.

Slice the log into 12 buns!

All lined up and ready to go!

Allow them to rise and get puffy before baking.

Fresh out of the oven!

Mmm smells like banana bread.

Frost them after they’ve cooled a bit.

Break one off and enjoy!

Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Bundt Cakes

I absolutely love pumpkin baked goods! I’ve been wanting to use my adorable mini bundt pan, and my favorite pumpkin cupcake recipe seemed like it might be the perfect choice. You could do a maple or cinnamon frosting, but I thought the latte frosting was a very clever idea!

Idea from here.

For the cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon ginger, allspice, cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

For the latte frosting
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
About a tablespoon brewed coffee, hot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a 6 cup mini bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with flour. Alternatively, line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugars, vegetable oil and eggs.

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir just until moist.

Scoop the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove cakes from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Mix together the frosting ingredients to form a nice drizzling consistency and apply to cakes.

Yum fresh from the oven!
The view from 10,000 feet.


Post frosting!

So pretty all in a row…Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

One of my favorite fall activities often turns into lots of fall baking! We went apple picking and ended up making several baked goods. These cookies hands down stole the show.
It was a lovely day full of apple sampling and after hours of apple baking, we created this product. It’s like an oatmeal raisin cookie in consistency, but full of bits of apple and gooey caramel.

My fellow chef cut these apples into perfect “dime-sized” apple slices but I’d imagine that chopping them into small bits and pieces would yield equally delicious results. We also played with varying amounts of caramel to yield a variety of cookies with just a bit of a caramel center to absolutely brimming with oozy caramel.

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from beyondfrosting

For the apples
1 1/2 cups chopped apples (about 2-3 apples)
1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

For the cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 package instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
1 1/2 cups quick cook oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 package caramel squares

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees

Prepare your apples by peeling and cutting them into thin dime-size pieces as we did, or simply chop into small cubes. Toss the apples in sugar and flour until well coated and set aside.

Cream your butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Add your eggs in one at a time followed by vanilla and maple syrup.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, vanilla pudding mix, oats, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Slowly add this mixture to your butter and sugar mix until well combined. Once the two mixtures are well incorporated add your apples!

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Taking about 2 tablespoons of your dough, place a caramel in the middle and roll your dough around the caramel until completely covered (hands work best!). Place your cookie (with caramel surprise!) on your cookie sheet. Make sure to keep your cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart. They spread!

Bake for 12-15 minutes and let cool for a few minutes before moving. These are best served warm with gooey caramel so you can always pop them in the microwave for a few minutes before serving to re-melt the caramel.

Tip: If you don’t want as much caramel, you can cut the caramel in half. Also, you can flatten the caramel to a disc shape and shape your dough around this – enabling you to start with an already flattened dough instead of a round mound of dough. Either way, it will be delicious.



Tomato Basil Bread


I love fresh basil! So much so that I bought a plant at the store for a couple dollars and have been trying to keep it alive since summer. But alas, basil likes a lot of sun and hot temperatures, which is just not in the cards this fall. This is why I find myself trying to consume an entire basil plant, which isn’t as easy as it sounds (just kidding, sort of). This bread is very flavorful thanks to the herbs, sun dried tomatoes, and cheese. And it’s really not that hard to make but looks very fancy!
Ideas combined from here and here.

For the bread
3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees )
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs
2-1/2 cups bread flour (I substituted about ½ cup with white whole wheat)
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the filling
3.5 ounce package sun dried tomatoes, chopped
¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 to ½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic

In a 2 cup measuring glass, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let proof in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it becomes bubbly and starts rising.

In a large bowl, combine about 2 cups of the flour with the salt and herbs. Add in the egg, olive oil, and yeast mixture. Mix to combine. Add in the remaining ½ cup flour (more or less) until a dough forms that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. A smooth dough ball will form.

Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until about doubled in volume.

For the filling, combine the sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the fresh basil and minced garlic.

Punch the dough down and knead out the air bubbles. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into roughly a 10 by 24 inch rectangle (you may need to pause while rolling it out to allow the dough to relax out into shape). Sprinkle the dough evenly with the tomato and cheese mixture, followed by the basil garlic mixture.

Starting with the long end, roll up the dough up tightly into a log. Pinch along the long seam and at both ends. Place the log seam side down onto a baking sheet covered in parchment (this is REALLY great for making sure the bread doesn’t stick at all). Using a serrated knife, cut along the top of the log (I cut through the top and second layer of dough…definitely do NOT go all the way through!). Curve the log into an S shape (this helps the filling stay where it’s supposed to).

Allow the log to start rising about 30 minutes. While doing this preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 20 minutes. At this point, you might want to cover the loaf with tin foil (the sun dried tomatoes get toasty quickly). Return to the oven and cook about 15 minutes longer. The loaf will be golden brown on the top and bottom and sound hollow when tapped with you finger.

Allow to cool before cutting.

Layering the filling on the rolled out dough…

Rolled and cut…ready for the oven!

Close up!

Fresh from the oven!