Dark Chocolate Pie

I had a great day yesterday! Carrie and I went through old family recipes and decided we’d make my Aunt Norma’s Dark Chocolate Pie. Aunt Norma is married to my Dad’s brother, Dane. She’s a great Southern cook and I always love eating anything she makes! She shared her Dark Chocolate Pie recipe with my mom years ago and we made this many times when I was growing up. Carrie loves chocolate and asked if we could make it. Heck, yeah!

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I had some homemade pie crust in the freezer. I always made this pie with the traditional meringue topping and I’d stick it in the oven to brown a little. I never liked that type of meringue (sorry to all my family members who’ve always topped their cream pies with it). It’s just not my thing. I switched it to a light whipped cream and that’s what I told Carrie we could use since I had whipping cream on hand. She asked if we could make “our meringue”. She was referring to the one I use on her beloved Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcakes. It’s a cooked meringue and tastes like gooey marshmallows. Sounded like a great idea and simple twist on this family classic! I mean, would you just look at those beautiful swirls? Carrie’s so smart!

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When I was a kid, I remember standing at the stove, stirring for what felt like hours to make sure the milk didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and eagerly wait to see those first boiling bubbles pop through the surface. My arm hurt. My hand cramped up. I whined and complained. I was eager to share that experience with Carrie and teach her how to make the pudding component of the pie! Sounds fun, huh?!

This pie requires a baked pie crust so Carrie rolled it out and blind baked it then let it cool. The pudding filling is sugar, arrowroot (or flour or cornstarch), salt and milk. Cook those over medium low heat FOREVER or until your hand cramps up–Carrie’s words, “My arm is going to fall off! Can I sit down?” 🙂

Once the mixture has thickened, temper egg yolks and add them back to the pan to bring back to a boil for a couple minutes. Then remove from the heat and add nice quality chocolate and vanilla.

Once the chocolate melts, add a little butter to give it that silky finish and cover in plastic wrap (press the wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent it forming a skin). Let cool slightly. Close your eyes and lick the spoon.

Fill the baked crust with the filling and top with the meringue or whipped cream. We added chocolate pieces to the center for fun but you can let your imagination run wild and get creative! I think Carrie’s arm finally felt better! I really love her smile!

What a fun time teaching Carrie an old family recipe and having her put her own spin on it! We ate the pie after dinner and it was so good! Homemade chocolate pudding is delicious! We decided the marshmallow meringue is really yummy on top but we think whipped cream might be our favorite because it’s not quite as sweet. This could work with a graham cracker crust as more of a s’mores pie. We inhaled it and didn’t mind the meringue but I’m definitely in the whipped cream camp!

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Oh, I didn’t get photos of these events, but I broke the edge of our pie dish and Carrie’s first piece of pie slid off her plate right onto the floor. It’s not all swirls of beautiful meringue and rich chocolate decadence all the time in this house!

If you’re like us and staying home, this is definitely a nice, comforting treat to make. You can use store bought crust or graham cracker crust or just make pudding and plop some whipped cream on top. If you’re not a chocolate fan, simply omit the chocolate, add extra vanilla for vanilla pudding and serve it with sliced bananas or any kind of fruit. Stir in some coconut for a little taste of the tropics or add a fresh fruit puree. It’s very versatile! This is one of those family recipes that never goes out of style. It was nice to pass it on to Carrie and enjoy some fond memories of baking with my family when I was a kid. Stay healthy and I hope you’re finding lots to do with loved ones during this crazy time in our lives. I’m treasuring the time as much as I can and doing my best to keep us well!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Dark Chocolate Pie

Pie Crust
Ingredients:
Butter: Diced into 1/2” cubes: 9 TBSP in the fridge; 5 TBSP in the freezer
Pastry Flour: 2 1/4 cups
Kosher Salt: 2 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 TBSP
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 TBSP with 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions:
–Place 9 TBSP cold butter and all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of sand.
–Add in the frozen butter cubes and start with 5 TBSP of the apple cider water and pulse until it holds together.
–Dump it out and work the dough on the counter until it holds together and is smooth.
–Divide in half and form into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate (preferably overnight). You can also freeze at this point.
–Remove dough from fridge to soften a little. Place disc on floured surface and roll out.
–Butter and flour pie pan. Once bottom crust is in prepared pan, place a piece of parchment paper and some pie weights (or dried beans, coins, rice) to blind bake the pie. –Bake for 15 minutes at 400 then remove pie weights and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and let cool.

Chocolate Pudding
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup AP flour (or 1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder)
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP butter

Instructions:
–In a sauce pan, combine sugar, flour (or corn starch or arrowroot) and salt and gradually stir in the milk.
–Cook and stir until thick and bubbly over medium low heat. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
–Whisk egg yolks and temper by adding a little of the hot milk mixture then pour it all back into the pan and return to a gentle boil. Cook and stir (just keep stirring!) 2 minutes then remove from heat.
–Add chocolate then vanilla and butter and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper or parchment to let it cool a little.
–Pour filling into baked and cooled crust and top with meringue or fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours then slice and enjoy! Don’t drop your slice on the floor! 🙂

Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites, sugar and salt over simmering water until sugar is dissolved. Mix with a whisk attachment in mixer until fluffy, add vanilla.

More Time (and a recipe)

Here we are! It’s nearly the end of March and what a month this has been. This post is kind of all over the place because there are resources I want to share but I also want to share a little personal life for a sense of connection to so many of you! I hope you’re staying healthy and safe and finding the extra time to be a gift. Finding “more” time is something I hear people say they wish they had more of. The bright side of this quarantine is that, more time is exactly what we have.

Time to breathe. Time to reflect on what’s really necessary in our busy lives. Time to give our kids and fur babies extra hugs. Time to get outside and notice that everything is waking up from the winter sleep. Time to connect (virtually) with family and friends. Time to dust off some old board games. Time to do TikToks with our teens (see the video at the end!). Time to clean out a closet or organize a pantry. Time for family room dance parties. Time to admire our kids for adapting to new ways of learning. Time to thank teachers for being creative and dedicated in ways they never imagined they’d have to. Time for driveway basketball and hopscotch games. Time to explore a hike we’ve always wanted to do. Time to figure out how to access and do a home work out. Time to bake and make meals together. Time to wonder what we’ll do when things go back to normal.

Home workouts; cinnamon rolls and coffee; hiking; matcha in my favorite mug (Billy Ritter)

I thought I’d use some of my time to share what we’ve been doing to fill up our days (and a healthy recipe below). This week is Carrie’s spring break and we were planning to go to Florida to visit my mom and get in some sun and beach. This week looks a little different than we planned but we’re trying to make the most of it. We all are and I feel for everyone who’s had to cancel plans or wonder about what the next couple months will bring. My heart goes out to all the health care workers, grocery employees, airline employees and everyone else who must get out there everyday and do their jobs. Thank you! As always, I’m thankful for farmers who continue to do what they do so we have access to healthy food. If you live in NE Ohio, Countryside is launching Countryside Curbside to help with access to local food makers! Creative solutions are everywhere!

Since all of this quarantine came to be, we haven’t really been on a schedule, which is tough for me. I like structure and routine. I actually thrive with structure and routine. I’ve let it all go. No specific wake up time or schedule throughout the day. What I’ve tried to do is have a list of things I’d like to accomplish each day. I’m not getting hung up on specific times. For example, I want to work out, get outside, make meals, connect with a friend or family member, read, play games, tackle a house project and catch up on some shows I’ve wanted to watch. I try to fit all of these in each day but I’m not stressing about it because we all have enough to stress about. If I start to feel antsy, I take Daisy for a walk or pour myself into an online yoga session. How about you? What are you doing to fill your days? Are you finding joy in having time or is it stressful?

Here’s a snapshot of some of our days. Lots of outside time, cuddles, food and games (not pictured–plenty of wine!):

I voted; Daisy Mae keeps me warm; we spotted a beaver at CVNP; beautiful sunset; homemade soft pretzels; photo fun with Carrie (and Jasmine).

Carrie and I did an Instagram Live on St. Patrick’s Day while making cupcakes; hiking in CVNP; playing James Bond (card game); supporting local brands-Masthead and Cleveland Kraut; more hiking in Summit County Metroparks.

Nothing too complicated here. I’m so lucky to have what I need and I hope to be able to share some of that with others throughout this challenging time. I keep supporting local and small businesses and we’re staying home. Carrie, Daisy and I have been home for 14 days (except for voting). Casey had to work and he’s been home for 3 days.

I’ve been baking but not nearly as much as I’d like because there aren’t enough home work outs to burn off the calories I’d consume if I had baked goods within reach 24/7. I don’t have any self control when I’m stuck at home! Also, I’m trying to not blow through all of our ingredients in case we really need them later.

The other day I made a healthier version of banana bread and it has been a nice little treat and thought I’d share it here. It’s not overly sweet and it’s delicious with a smear of nut butter (I love Nosh and they’re offering free shipping across the U.S. with promo code HUNKERDOWN) and a drizzle of honey (Brighton Wool and Honey is one of my favorites). I also love to sprinkle hemp seeds or chia seeds on top. The point is, this bread feels like bread but isn’t full of the carbs and sugar I’m trying to limit. Yay! I’ve also been experimenting more with healthy alternatives to some of my favorite comfort foods and baked goods. This one is a winner!

If you’re on Instagram, the videos are in my highlights. It’s easy, healthy and yummy!

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Friends, I wish you health–physical and mental! We’re all in this and we’ll get through it with kindness, patience and love. Sending you all a BIG virtual hug and hoping you find lots of ways to spend your gift of extra time that bring you joy! Here’s something you might get a laugh out of (gotta love TikTok!):

From the heart,
Shannon

 

 

Simple Healthy Granola

Hi! I posted pics of my granola on Instagram and received interest from several followers to share the recipe so, here it is!

I’ve experimented with many different granola recipes over the years and this one can easily be made to fit your lifestyle. When I can’t make it, I buy Whirlybird Granola, started by an amazing woman from Cincinnati. It’s delicious and super clean/healthy!

This homemade granola recipe isn’t too sweet, provides amazing crunch and, most importantly, it’s HEALTHY! It comes together quickly and one tip I have is to buy some of the nuts and seeds from the bulk bins available in most stores so you just get what you need without spending a lot of money.

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I start with local oats from Mud Run Farm; rolled oats work best. Combine the oats with olive oil, local maple syrup and salt and bake. Then I add lots of seeds and a variety of nuts. I love walnuts but Carrie asked to leave them out of this batch. You can add whatever seeds and nuts you like. The biggest problem with homemade granola? I eat it by the handful, spoonful, by itself, on top of my yogurt, in a bowl with  non-dairy milk and fruit, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between. I have no willpower when it comes to granola!

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The bowl pictured above is from Coconut Bowls. Their bowls give me a warm, breezy tropical feel. Daisy too! 🙂 I’d love to hear all the ways you enjoy your granola and any fun combinations you’ve come up with. If you make this one, please let me know how you like it!

From the heart,
Shannon

Simple Healthy Granola

Ingredients
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I highly recommend local oats if you can find them!)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pure maple syrup (Local is best!)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon (Adjust this amount or experiment with different spices like pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger or anything that sounds good to you!)
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw walnut halves
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
Optional: 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, oil, syrup, cinnamon and salt. Toss well to coat evenly. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  3. Remove the baking sheet and stir in the almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds. Bake, stirring halfway through to brown evenly, an additional 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely, then stir in the chocolate chunks.
  5. Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Put some granola in a Mason jar as a cute gift idea! 🙂

German Chocolate Cake

Valentine’s Day is almost here and my social media feeds are full of pink, purple and red. I love it all and I promise I’ll post some pink soon! Although there’s no pink or red, the cake I’m sharing today is full of love and great memories. My mom made German Chocolate Cake for my Grandpa (her dad) and my Dad for their February birthdays every year. I liked it but I never loved it until I got older. She always used the recipe printed inside the box. Did you know there’s nothing German about it?

German Chocolate Cake is a dark and decadent triple-decker dessert topped and layered with a buttery frosting loaded with shredded coconut and pecans. I did a little research and the sweet is a creation of Mrs. George Clay of Dallas, Texas, who submitted a recipe for “German Sweet Chocolate Cake” to the Dallas Morning News in 1957. The paper ran the recipe, and it caused such an enthusiastic response that newspapers around the country reprinted it.

German’s Sweet Chocolate, an ingredient originally made by Walter Baker & Co. of Dorchester, Massachusetts. (The product’s name was chosen after Samuel German, who developed the chocolate for the company back in 1852.) It was Mrs. Clay’s recipe that put German’s Sweet Chocolate on the map (THANK YOU!). Within a year of the recipe’s publication, Walter Baker & Co. capitalized on the cake’s popularity by printing a recipe for German Chocolate Cake on every box of its sweet chocolate.

German Chocolate Cake is rich and delicious. You could skip making the cake and just make the frosting and you’ll be all set for the rest of your life. No kidding! I’ve been known to make a batch and eat it by the spoonful. While it’s still warm. Also when it’s cool. It’s perfect for this cake, over ice cream, sandwiched between cookies, you get it.

I actually did eat way too much of it this time around. My first attempt at making the cake failed and I turned to the frosting in my time of need.

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I found a recipe online that had some minor changes that sounded good so I gave it a go. The cakes didn’t rise and I had to start over. I went back to the original recipe I’ve used for years and it worked perfectly.

This cake is light and delicately flavored with chocolate. The frosting is the real star.

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Let’s start with the cake. The only thing you unique in the ingredients list is the Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate. You’ll also need: AP flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs, unsalted butter, vanilla and buttermilk.

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Melt the chocolate in boiling water and set aside. Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. Mix butter and sugar then add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well in between.

Add the vanilla, cooled chocolate mixture and dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, alternating with the buttermilk.

Mix the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold those gently into the cake batter. Once incorporated, fill prepared pans and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.

Frosting ingredients are simple and rich! Butter, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, pecans and coconut.

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I like to toast my pecans to give them more crunch and flavor but you can certainly skip that step. They do need to be chopped. Heat evaporated milk, egg yolks, butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium size pan over medium heat. Cook for about 12 minutes until thick.

Once thick, remove from heat and add chopped pecans and coconut and stir. Let cool. This is the point you’ll be wishing you’d doubled the recipe so you can eat a bowl of it and still have enough to frost the cake!

When the cakes are finished, remove from the oven and let them cool completely on wire racks. Place one cake on a plate or platter and smother it in frosting, add next layer, frosting and the final layer and frosting. That’s all the “decorating” that’s involved!

Gorgeous, right? You can get all fancy and add pecan halves to the top or whip up some chocolate frosting and pipe swirls. That would be beautiful! I keep mine simple because that’s how I like it. I always think about my dad when I make this cake. When he and my mom divorced, I made it for him for his birthday before he moved a little further away from where I live. Now, I make his favorite cake, send him a picture and eat a piece to celebrate how thankful I am he’s still having birthdays!

It’s a huge cake and I would definitely have no problem eating the whole thing but I’m trying to maintain my “everything in moderation” plan. I sliced this beauty up and delivered some to my neighbors. You’d be surprised how happy folks are when you knock on their door to hand them German Chocolate Cake on a cold winter day! The smiles warmed me right up and reminded me that I really love to bake people happy!

German Chocolate Cake is yummy for any occasion and especially perfect for February birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s party (it’s yummy with wine) or to simply hand out to your friends and neighbors. Sweet!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake

Cake
Ingredients
1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cover bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with parchment; spray sides with cooking spray.
  3. Melt chocolate in boiling water; set aside to cool.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
  6. Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
  7. Add egg whites to cake batter; fold in gently until well blended.
  8. Pour into prepared pans.
  9. Bake 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 5 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

Frosting
Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans (toasted if you like)
1 pkg. (7 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut (2-2/3 cups)

Instructions

    1. Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until blended.
    2. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
    3. Add pecans and coconut; stir well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Recipe adopted and modified from various sources, including the Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate box version.

King Cake

Have you tried King Cake? The first time I had it was in Cincinnati at a Fat Tuesday food day in my office (picture the largest conference room, full of food). It was from a bakery called, Servatii and I loved it! The first time I made King Cake was in 2013 with Hannah and Carrie. I’m not even sure why I did or what sparked my interest. I looked up a recipe and we started baking! Here are my babies doing their best King Cake work!

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The ring shaped confection is similar to coffee cake and topped with icing and sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power/wealth), to honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas. There is a plastic baby hidden inside that finds its way to someone’s plate. In our house, we let that person make a wish! The normal tradition is that whoever gets the baby must host the next party.

Every year just before Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, the day of feasting before the Christian fast known as Lent, people in the Midwest get pretty excited. Bakeries start offering special menu items such as: packzi (“POONCH-key”), filled doughnuts and King Cake. Below is a sampling of NE Ohio bakeries I found that offer packzi and/or King Cakes if you don’t want to make your own. Check them out and support local whenever you can! If you live elsewhere, find a local bakery that celebrates Fat Tuesday in a big way. You won’t regret it!
Becker’s
Breads and Beyond Bakery
Brewnuts
Jack Frost Donuts
Kiedrowski’s Bakery
Michael Angelo’s
Sweet Mary’s Bakery

King Cake is easy to make and this recipe delivers a soft, chewy dough, swirled with a cinnamon sugar filling. The glaze is a little tart from the addition of lemon and the combination of everything make it a nice little treat!

Start with sour cream, butter, sugar, salt, water, yeast, bread flour, eggs, and cinnamon.

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Cook the sour cream, butter and sugar in a medium size pan and let it cool slightly. Combine water, sugar and yeast and let it sit until it bubbles. Place eggs in a mixer bowl, add sour cream mixture and yeast.

Add 2 cups at a time of the bread flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead gently and place in a bowl to rise (about an hour).

Divide dough in half and roll one piece into a 22″ x 12″ rectangle, smear with softened butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over. Don’t forget to write your note!

Roll it up, form into an oval/circular shape and pinch the ends together to seal.

Now do the same thing with the other piece of dough. Cover both cakes and let them rise again for about 30 minutes. Then bake at 375°F for 14-20 minutes.

Let the cakes cool slightly while you make the glaze. Powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Whisk it all together. Line up those pretty sugars and you’re good to go.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake and top with the sugars. I don’t love how the cake looks in the first picture but once it’s glazed, I adore it! So does Daisy Mae!

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I made both cakes, decorated one and let Carrie decorate the other. It was a nice break from homework! Daisy was there to supervise!

The baby! I alway push it in through the bottom once the cake is finished. They look kind of creepy. Perhaps there are cuter ones but I bought a big pack of these several years ago and I just keep using the same ones. Tiny, creepy-ish photo.

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We invited our neighbors over to catch up and eat King Cake. This cake isn’t fancy or heavy but it is delicious. It has a nice texture and flavor. Works well with coffee, tea and wine. I kept going back to get another little slice throughout the evening. It’s fun to make and something just a little different to get us through these gloomy winter days. I hope you’ll try it!


From the heart,
Shannon

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King Cake
Cake
Ingredients
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 TBSP sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour* (I use King Arthur)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
    Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
    Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  4. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Write a little note in the butter! Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
  5. Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Bake at 375° for 14 to 20 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored (purple, green, gold) sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

Creamy Glaze
Ingredients
3 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP butter, melted
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 TBSP milk
Instructions
Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

*6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour may be substituted.
Note:This recipe uses bread flour, which makes for a light, airy cake. You still get tasty results with all-purpose flour–the cake will just be more dense.

Dreamy Cream Puffs

When I was a kid, my mom and I made little dough puffs and filled them with homemade pecan grape chicken salad. I never knew what the puffs were called all I knew was we made them when she had friends over and they were off limits for the kids! I was fascinated by the way they transformed from a glossy dough to airy little puffs. I always managed to sneak one or two while we were making them.

Fast forward many years later and I learned the puffs were pâte à choux (pronounced shoe), a French pastry dough. These delicate beauties can be made sweet or savory. Mix in cheese and herbs to serve alongside a salad or make sandwiches. Fill them with simple whipped cream, ice cream or pastry cream. This is the same dough used to make eclairs.

My family and I love pastry cream and that’s what I’m showcasing in this post. Pastry cream and custard are similar. Pastry cream is more firm than custard because it’s thickened with a starch and custard is thickened with eggs. Subtle but significant.

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Let’s make these! Start with the pastry cream to give it time to cool and set up. Homemade pastry cream is decadent! Milk, heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks, salt, butter, vanilla or vanilla bean paste and arrowroot (not pictured).

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Heat the cream, milk, vanilla and salt and let cool slightly. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and arrowroot until smooth and add about 1/3 cup of the liquid mixture to the egg mixture and whisk like crazy. Keep adding a little liquid at a time. Do this slowly (it’s called tempering) so you don’t scramble the eggs. Finish adding and whisk until nice and smooth. Return the mixture to the stove and heat and whisk until it’s thick.

Pour the heated mixture through a mesh strainer to make it extra smooth. Whisk in the butter, a piece at a time and it’s finished! Gorgeous! You can use this to make all kinds of desserts or just spoon some into a bowl with fresh berries. Yum! Let it cool to room temp then place a piece of parchment paper right against the cream and place in the fridge.

Moving on to the pâte à choux. Not a lot of ingredients are required. Flour, water, salt, butter and eggs. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

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Start by bringing the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add the flour and stir. Turn the heat back on and keep cooking until it’s glossy and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let it cool for 10 minutes.

Put the slightly cooled mixture into a mixing bowl and add eggs one at a time and mix for at least one minute between eggs. The mixture will all come together when you add the last egg.

You can pipe or scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door.

They’ll puff up beautifully and when you take them out of the oven, turn the heat off, make a tiny slit in each puff and place them back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, place on cooling rack and slice them in half to prevent the centers getting soggy.

I like to make a little fresh whipped cream to fold into my pastry cream to make it a little lighter. For the chocolate ganache, simply melt dark chocolate in heavy cream. Lots of cream in these. I’m not apologizing!

It’s finally time to assemble! This would be really fun to do at a party. Put out all of the components and let everyone make their own! I like to put just a dab of chocolate in the bottom shell. Why should the top have all the fun? Then a dollop of cream, top shell and more chocolate on top. My mouth is watering!

Magical!

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Some people top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and some go the chocolate ganache route. We’re pretty much a chocolate family! However, we woke up to a beautiful covering of fresh snow and I couldn’t resist…

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Are you team chocolate or powdered sugar? There’s no wrong answer! I hope you’ll try making these. I love the idea of a make your own Cream Puff for a get together so everyone can let their creativity flow. The puffs are versatile, delicious and I promise everyone who gets a chance to eat one will feel as if they’ve been transported to a special place! Dreamy!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Cream Puffs

Pastry Cream
Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup + 3 TBSP granulated sugar divided
2 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
¼ tsp salt
5 large egg yolks room temperature
3 TBSP arrowroot powder
4 TBSP unsalted butter softened and cut into pieces

Pâte à choux*
Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 large eggs

Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions
Pastry Cream

  1. Combine cream, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium-sized pan. Place on stovetop over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3 TBSP of sugar. Whisk vigorously for about 15 seconds, until sugar begins to dissolve. Sprinkle arrowroot over egg/sugar mixture and whisk until combined and slightly thickened.
  3. Once your cream mixture has cooled, slowly drizzle about 1/3 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly (this will temper your eggs and gradually adding the heated cream will prevent them from cooking). Slowly, while still whisking, drizzle in the remainder of your cream mixture until the cream and egg mixture are completely combined.
  4. Pour mixture back into saucepan and return to stovetop over medium heat. Whisk until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into bowl.
  6. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time until completely combined.
  7. Place a piece of parchment directly in contact with the surface of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Allow pastry cream to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until pastry cream is near room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2-4 hours before using.
  8. Optional:  make whipped cream to fold into pastry cream and fold it in when ready to assemble.

Pâte à choux

  1. Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, using a spatula to stir quickly and vigorously.
  4. Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture smooths to a glossy consistency and pulls away from the sides of the pan. The mixture will also steam and cook off some of the water.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. The mixture will still be warm but place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing for 1 full minute between each addition. The mixture will look curdled with the first two eggs. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. The batter will be smooth and glossy after the last egg is added. Beat for 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
  7. Pipe or use a cookie scoop, or a level muffin scoop,  and drop the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 1/4-cup mounds. Space the mounds about 3″ apart, to allow for expansion.
  8. Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown. Don’t open the oven door while the pastries are baking.
  9. Turn off the oven and remove the pastries from the oven. Make a small slit in the top of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool.
  10. When the puffs are cool enough to handle, split each in half to make top and bottom pieces; splitting and exposing the centers to air will help keep them from becoming soggy.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to steam and simmer. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 1 minute. After 1 minute stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is glossy. While warm, spoon over cream puffs.

Cream puffs are best served slightly cooled so keep them stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also make everything and allow guests to assemble their own! 🙂

*Recipe adopted from: Joy the Baker

Handwritten Treasures

Happy 2020! It sounds so cool, doesn’t it? I remember being a kid and imagining all the amazing inventions that would exist by the year 2020. Technology has certainly come a long way and I’m grateful for the advances that make our lives easier!

As a foodie, technology has definitely enhanced my life in the kitchen. It’s incredibly simple to find, read and print recipes online in a matter of seconds. Appliances such as my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers make mixing up anything a breeze and my recent addiction to Instant Pot has inspired me to make new recipes like homemade ramen in a flash.

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A few months ago, I was looking for something and found the binder that holds my collection of handwritten recipes from family and friends. I flipped through them and couldn’t remember the last time someone actually wrote a recipe for me or the last time I wrote a recipe. In this digital age, handwritten anything feels special.

Some of the recipe cards are from people who’ve passed and I spent the next hour looking at these cards in a very different way than I had before. The love and time that went into making food for family, parties, funerals and holidays came through in the cards that had a few stains and creases. As I looked through them, something deep within me stirred. I pictured my grandma, mom, aunts taking time to sit down, find a decent pen or pencil and share a piece of themselves on a 4×6 index card or scrap piece of paper; writing their best cursive and simply drawing a line through mistakes made along the way. Kind of a nice thought, isn’t it? Simply draw a line through our mistakes and keep writing our stories. I like that.

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Small sample of some of my handwritten cards.

These cards are tokens of love, just like the many meals we’ve shared. Food is our most fundamental way of communicating. Good times and bad. Laughter and silence. Memories and new beginnings.

I pictured my loved ones in their kitchens just as I’d seen them for years preparing dishes using real ingredients and no fancy gadgets. Cookbooks weren’t piled up and the ones that did exist were usually held together with string or tape, the pages were stuck together and notes were written in margins about the latest Bible verse to read or a little tidbit about combining sweet milk and vinegar to make buttermilk.

I visualized them wiping their hands on aprons and finding joy in the simple act of cooking. They weren’t distracted by taking an Instagram worthy photo or making their finished plates look like something from a Five-Star restaurant.  They simply wanted to deliver a plate full of love. Some of my fondest memories are set in kitchens.

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Mammaw Brooks in her Kentucky kitchen.

Once I snapped out of my stroll down memory lane, I realized my daughters don’t have a keepsake of handwritten recipes. What kind of mother am I?! I mean, it’s probably not a big void in their lives but it’s something I value and want them to have. Especially, since they both love to make and eat food! Also, I miss cursive and teaching kids how to write all pretty and…well, I’ll get back on task now.

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Hannah and Carrie several years ago with matching buns!

I went right to my computer for ideas for a recipe box that I could give Hannah and Carrie as Christmas gifts. Etsy to the rescue! I found a sweet little box and adorable dividers and cards at a shop named Gertie’s Attic. I ordered 2 sets right away! The shop owner is great to work with and even sent me extra cards.

I mailed the recipe cards, along with a note explaining to the recipients what my plan was. I received handwritten recipes back within a couple days! Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends really came through and it was quite a treat to read their selected recipes. Of course, I also included a few from Casey and me.

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Hannah and Carrie were really surprised and had a great time flipping through the recipes! In this year of 2020 (still can’t believe it!), I’m reminded of the importance of technological progress. I’m also thankful for simple, meaningful gifts that are intended to remind my girls they’re connected to something greater and loved beyond measure.

I hope 2020 is full of wonderful times and delicious food!

From the heart,
Shannon

Do you have special handwritten recipes? Feel free to share them with me!

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Christmas Cookie Swap

Hi! I hope your holiday activities are bringing you lots of joy and very little stress!

A few weeks ago, I sent a quick message to a handful of friends I haven’t seen in a while to see if they’d be available for a Christmas Cookie Swap. The cookie part was really just an excuse to get us together, eat snacks, have a couple drinks and catch up. Of course, I was excited when most of them could make it and was super excited to see what kinds of cookies they’d bring!

It means the world to me to get time with friends and I don’t do it nearly enough. When I do, I’m so grateful for the time and laughs! I made a few savory appetizers including a cheese board and these little Greek bites. Easy and cute!

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I also whipped up Holiday Cheermeister Bourbon Punch from one of my favorite bloggers, Half Baked Harvest. It was delicious and the perfect holiday cocktail! I didn’t get a picture but there are lots on HBH’s site. Trust me, it’s beautiful and it goes down real nice!

My cookie for the evening was a Brown Butter Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chip cookie. Hannah introduced me to these a few weeks ago. They’re one of my new favorite cookies! You can find the recipe here on Baker by Nature’s site. Please add these to your cookie recipe files! Also, I think Santa would be quite grateful to have one or two of these on Christmas Eve!

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The cookies my friends brought were AMAZING!

Snickerdoodles. Seriously, so good! I always thought Snickerdoodles were thin and crispy. These were fluffy and chewy and I ate way too many! No I didn’t!

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I’ve never had these before and have always found them to be so pretty. They’re beautiful and they didn’t disappoint on flavor! Chocolatey and gooey!

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Traditional Almond Biscotti. These just feel special! I had a quick bite last night but really enjoyed two of these with my coffee this morning. Light and perfect for dunking and the anise flavor makes them divine! What a treat!

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Red Velvet Thumbprints. Come on!!! They taste as good as they look! I love how pretty these are! So festive and yummy! Again, Santa would be grateful for these on his/her plate!

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Pretty neat, huh? I had a great time with the exception of missing a few gals who couldn’t join. When I got the wheels in motion to host this, I found all kinds of ways on Pinterest to do a Cookie Swap/Exchange. I kept this simple. Everyone made 7 dozen cookies and showed up. We had snacks, drinks and then filled our containers and shared a little about why we chose our cookies and/or where the recipes came from. Some of these are Grandma’s recipes! I love that!

It’s a busy time and I’m so grateful I got to spend some of it with dear friends! Thanks for showing up, ladies, and sharing your cookie creations!

From the heart,
Shannon

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Here we are at the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, I love all the Christmas things: trees, lights, stockings, nutcrackers, cookies, candy, hot cocoa, family time, fun get togethers, wrapping and giving presents. All the good stuff. It can also get overwhelming and stressful (remind me to tell you about my meltdown over not being able to find my mini gingerbread cookie cutter sometime). I try to not fall into the chaos but there are moments when it doesn’t feel like everything on my list will get finished. Anyone else?

Holiday baking is usually at the top of that long list! It’s in full swing at my house. One of the amazing things about holiday baking for me is that the flavors and smells can transport me to a wonderful memory of a person or place, and make me feel happy, cozy and loved. These Gingerbread Cupcakes are no stranger to incredible flavor and they fill the air with the most delightful smell while they’re baking.

When I was selling baked goods, Gingerbread Cupcakes were one of my most requested holiday orders. Why wouldn’t they be? The cake is a perfectly spiced, molasses and brown sugar concoction of goodness. Then there’s the rich, tangy cinnamon cream cheese frosting. To top it all off is a sweet little gingerbread cookie! So charming and incredibly delicious! You don’t have to choose between a cookie and a cupcake. Have BOTH! You’re welcome!

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I know I always say this but it’s mostly why I love to bake. These cupcakes make great gifts! Teachers, neighbors, hair stylists, and friends will be thrilled with such a fun treat. The day I made these, I ran some out to our mail carrier and she was pleasantly surprised and excited to dig in! I also took some to a friend who’s recovering from surgery. It just so happened, she was feeling a little down that day. I opened the box and six of these adorable fellas were smiling at her and she smiled right back! Bake people happy! Yes!

Let’s get going on making these! The cupcakes include lots of gingerbread spices, eggs, molasses, brown sugar, butter, flour and baking soda (not pictured–water).

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You don’t even need a mixer to whip these up! It can all be done by hand. Melt the butter. Have I ever mentioned we don’t own a microwave? I melt my butter double-boiler style.

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Combine the molasses, brown sugar, eggs and melted butter in a mixing bowl.

Daisy Mae heard me whisking and ran into my “photo studio” to see if I needed help! Sweet beagle!

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Combine the flour, spices, baking soda and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Lots of spices in these! I don’t like a bland gingerbread anything. I want to taste all the spices!

The finished batter will be gooey and smell amazing! Breathe it all in!

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Line the cupcake pan and fill. I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill to make them all even. It’s easier too! Once the pan is full, bake them and let them cool completely.

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Time to make the frosting. I didn’t get a picture of the ingredients before I started mixing. I was a little eager to get these finished so I could eat one! It’s just a basic cream cheese frosting with the addition of cinnamon. My version is included in the recipe below.

Tip: Before I add the cinnamon, I scoop a little out into a small baggie to use for the gingerbread cookies. It’s easy to pipe and I don’t have to make another kind of frosting. 

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and top each one with a little gingerbread cookie.

As soon as I put these together, I smile! They truly bring me joy and what could be better than that during this season of hustle and bustle? These guys aren’t in any hurry and I could take a lesson from them!

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Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe how wonderful these cupcakes are. Make them, eat them (while guzzling a cup of coffee) and share them. I promise you’ll be energized to finish all the items on your to-do list! You might even accomplish all the tasks with a smile on your face!

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From the heart,
Shannon

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Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcakes (this recipe makes about 20 standard size cupcakes)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs (room temp)
1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan/muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of the water to the melted butter mixture, then half the dry mixture, and stir. Add the remaining water and dry mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Frost with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (below) and top with a gingerbread cookie.
  8. Smile and enjoy the holidays!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 TBSP unsalted butter (room temp)
12 oz. cream cheese (room temp)
8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

  1. Combine all ingredients with a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Spoon into a pastry bag and pipe onto cupcakes or use a knife to spread the frosting onto each cupcake.

 

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Rolling into Thanksgiving!

Is it really November 26? I’m feeling very behind on all holiday things. Anyone else? This past weekend, Carrie and I drove to NC to see a concert put on by Carrie’s broadway idol, Jessica Vosk. It happened to be near Hannah’s place so, as a big bonus, we got to see Han too! It was a great trip! Brunch, wedding venue tour, concert, met Jessica Vosk, hot yoga and avocado toast. Super quick and fun trip! It was a little easier to leave this time because Hannah’s coming home for Thanksgiving! 

Usually, when November 1st hits, I’m knee deep in Pumpkin Roll making. Not this year. I don’t know why but I hadn’t made any until today. Time has definitely snuck away from me and here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I’m cramming in some Pumpkin Rolls.

I told Hannah and Carrie this is their year to learn to make them while Hannah’s home. They’ve always enjoyed the scrumptious treat but never really spent time making these with me. I want them to know how so they can keep this annual tradition alive for years to come.

I learned how to make Pumpkin Roll from my mom and grandma and have always associated it with Thanksgiving because it’s usually part of the dessert line-up. I love it! Pumpkin Roll is delicious and classic and it’s a dessert that can be made weeks or months in advance and stored in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to slice while it’s frozen! It also makes a wonderful gift.

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You don’t need many ingredients but you do need space and dedicated time and patience. Don’t be intimidated by the rolling. I’m going to share some of my tricks with you and you’ll see how easy it is.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients make for a perfect cake. Eggs (these are from Harvest Bell), sugar, vanilla, pumpkin purée, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

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Prep your pans! I use jelly roll style pans. I line them with unbleached parchment and give them a quick spray with oil to be sure they don’t stick. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done.IMG_6717

Start by beating the eggs, sugar and vanilla until nice and thick. Can we talk about the color of those eggs for a second? Beautiful!

Add the pumpkin purée (mine is homemade from pie pumpkins I got from Martha’s Farm) then add the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into prepared pans. I’m making a double batch. One plain and one with pecans. Please add pecans! Just chop them and sprinkle them on top before baking. My sweet Daisy Mae is there to make sure I get it right! 🙂

Pop them in the oven and clean up your mess. You could also have a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Yeah, do that! These only bake until the top springs back when touched. If you bake it too long, there’s a chance it will crack when you roll it.

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Here’s where I have some advice on the rolling. For years, I flipped these things out onto a towel covered with powdered sugar. There was always a dust cloud of sugar and it went EVERYWHERE! Also, the whole process made me nervous–would the cake come out of the pan, would it crack, would I miss the towel??!! Enough of that! I adopted a new technique a few years ago and it much less messy and more calming for the baker!

I get a larger cookie sheet ready by turning it over and covering it with a tea towel. I use my handy dandy powdered sugar sprinkler jar to sprinkle sugar right on top of the pumpkin roll when it comes out of the oven. Then I put the towel and cookie sheet on top and gently invert it. Remove the pumpkin roll pan and parchment and roll up the hot cake. Let it cool completely in the towel on a cooling rack. Cotton tea towels work best.

When the Pumpkin Roll is cool, make the filling which is simply cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla whipped up with a mixer until creamy and fluffy.

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Gently unroll the cake and spread the filling to cover the cake. If your cake cracks, do not panic. These things are very forgiving. Keep spreading the filling and move to the next step.

Roll her back up nice and tight. It’s best to do that right onto a piece of plastic wrap then sprinkle a little more powdered sugar over the roll and wrap the whole thing tightly in the plastic then in foil. Stick it in the fridge or freezer for several hours to set up.

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When you’re ready to serve, simply slice to your desired thickness. I like to slice mine in about 1″ slices. It’s so pretty and always tastes amazing!

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For me, Pumpkin Roll is about the memories I have of Thanksgiving. I miss those big family gatherings. Due to all sorts of family changes, it’s hard to keep everything the same. That’s one of the many things I love about food. It can give all the feels, bring back nice memories and create new experiences.

Maybe next year Hannah and Carrie will make this for me! Until then, I’m ready to get going on preparing one of my favorite meals of the year. I have much to be thankful for! Safe travels if you’re traveling and enjoy time with all those you’re with. Happy Thanksgiving!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Roll
Ingredients
Cake
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
Choppped pecans, if desired (highly encouraged!)

Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 TBSP butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add in pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. If adding pecans, sprinkle those on top.
3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and invert cake onto a larger cookie sheet covered with a tea towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool completely on wire rack.
4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Roll cake as tightly as possible. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil and refrigerate at least one hour.

Store prepared Pumpkin Roll in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store in the freezer for up to one month. Remove frozen Pumpkin Roll and slice in 1″ slices and serve at room temperature.

If you want to double the recipe, it’s about 3 cups of batter per pan.