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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I love this holiday so much, and I think it is because the foods served are so down to earth and delicious. Not to mention that I am especially thankful for so much.

I will be baking MY pies on Tuesday, November 26th from 3-4 PM, and will be streaming live on Facebook. I hope that you will join me as I give out some of my best tips to making the flakiest and most delicious pies.

I will also take any questions that you might have as you are preparing your pies and desserts for Thanksgiving.

Hope you will join me!

Gail

Hear All About How to Make My Pumpkin Spice Baked Alaska on WAMC Radio Friday 11/8 from 2-3PM on Food Friday!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Baked Alaska
I really didn’t get what all the fuss was about with the “hysteria” over Pumpkin Spice Latte beverages and EVERYTHING Pumpkin Spice Latte, in general. I thought it was way over the top. People should get a life! I mean it’s just a flavored squash when you think about it, right?
Then as a baker, I, too got the squash “bug” and decided to experiment with some desserts that might be a different riff on the typical Pumpkin Spice Latte flavor combo. In my most recent book”Baking with Success” I have my award winning Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe, and thought that it might be fun to use it in my search for a dessert with a new take on this Thanksgiving holiday flavor.
After much experimentation, I think I came up with a really cool dessert that shakes up the everyday Pumpkin Spice Latte flavor genre. I made a cinnamon Blondie topped with my own Pumpkin Ice Cream and then slathered in a latte flavored Italian meringue!!
I build this dessert of beauty in a simple 9X5X3 inch loaf pan. When I am ready to serve it I allow it to soften a bit on a heat proof serving platter, and then I singe it with my little blow torch.
A Pumpkin Spice Latte dessert worthy of Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter!

Cinnamon Blondie

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch salt

8 tablespoons or 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon flour into the pan and after distributing the flour, shake out excess over a sink. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, blend until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a small knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely and remove from pan.

Latte Italian Meringue

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup water

4 large egg whites at room temperature

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 heaping tablespoon instant espresso

  1. In a saucepan, stir together sugar and water. Bring to a boil without stirring. Insert a candy thermometer and cook it until it reaches 240° F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, beat egg whites until foamy.
  3. Add cream of tartar.
  4. On high speed slowly add hot sugar syrup and continue beating until meringue forms stiff peaks.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold espresso powder into meringue leaving streaks.

Assembly

1-2 pints pumpkin ice cream, softened in a bowl (Recipe can be found in “Baking with Success”)

Cooled Cinnamon Blondie

Latte Italian meringue

  1. Line a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan with plastic wrap allowing some excess plastic wrap to go over each side.
  2. Place Blondie in bottom of lined pan.
  3. Fill space inside pan with ice cream, packing it as much as possible until the ice cream is level with the top of the pan.
  4. Cover the top of the Baked Alaska with plastic wrap and freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. Remove Baked Alaska from freezer and unmold onto a heatproof platter, ice cream side up. Remove plastic wrap.
  6. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with prepared meringue creating swirls and spikes. Lightly brown the meringue using a blowtorch or place under a broiler.
  7. Serve at once by cutting into slices.

Happy Halloween: Biting your Fingers Should Always Taste This Good

Witch Fingers

Well, it’s 2 days before Halloween and I wanted to share a special recipe for some exceptionally delicious treats that take no time at all.

My newest fave Halloween treat is Matcha Shortbread Witch Fingers! They are so easy to make and look so real that they are really a bit CREEPY, though yummy, if I do say so myself.

Like my title says if biting your fingers tasted THIS good NO ONE would have any! Matcha tea powder gives just the proper amount of moss green coloring for witch fingers. Those of you who prefer not to use Matcha, just leave it out.

The key to the most fabulous witch fingers is polishing the finger nails. You will need to get some skinned or blanched whole almonds. I took a small brush and coated each almond with a very thin layer of red, pink and violet food coloring. Allow them to dry out a bit on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper. Don’t worry if they are still a bit tacky, as in your worst manicure nightmare, because they will dry in the oven during baking.

Next, after allowing the dough to chill for a short time, shaping each finger is crucial to the realistic look that you want. Remember, most of us have 2 knuckles per finger (except the thumb) so make indentations in 2 areas of each finger to make a realistic finger shape. Then with a small knife, make a few marks for each knuckle. And go ahead and make some one knuckled thumbs while you are at it too.

Using a small brush, egg wash each nail area and glue on a polished nail onto each finger. Watch how REAL they actually look right before your eyes!! Bake them off on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and you have about 5 handfuls or about 27 fingers total.

So go and enjoy this Halloween treat by biting your “finger” nails first as only a proper witch would do!

Matcha Witch Fingers

Makes approximately 27 fingers

2 tablespoons red, pink, or purple gel food coloring

About 30 blanched whole almonds

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg, separated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons Matcha tea powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cover 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Using a small brush, paint the top half of each almond with some food coloring, and allow to dry on a wax paper-lined sheet pan. They may remain tacky, but will dry in the oven when baked.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars on medium speed until just blended.
  4. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and blend on low speed.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and Matcha powder. On low speed, add the mixture to the mixer and blend well.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  7. Divide one half of the dough into 13-14 pieces. Roll each piece on a work surface into an approximate 3-4 inch long log, tapered at one end.
  8. Lightly squeeze the log in two places, equidistant from each other, to simulate the knuckles on a finger. If you desire to make a thumb, only make one knuckle. The knuckles can be shaped to be more knobby, and score each knuckle lightly with the tip of a knife. Place fingers on the prepared sheet pan, spaced evenly.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the remaining half of dough.
  10. Using a pastry brush, brush the taped end of each finger with some egg wash. Press one painted almond onto the tip of each finger.
  11. Bake for about 12 minutes or until just lightly browned.
  12. Cool completely. Serve on a spooky Halloween platter or bowl.

Baking: How To Lighten Things Up

We all love baked goods, and when they are homemade they are that much more special. Homemade implies that someone cared enough to make them for us. There are times when we may wish to lighten up our homemade baked goods. Learn how to substitute key ingredients with healthier options to create a baked good that is just as delicious as the original.