Forgive me, fair reader, for I have not been keeping up to speed with all of the sweets and baking in my life.
However, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and you’ll be granted a whole plethora of sexy pictures to look at.
But first, the Pumpkin Pie Cocktail – I figured it was close enough to the real thing. It’s from Gallery Bar on Orchard Street between Delancey and Rivington in New York City.
Here’s the recipe:
1/2 oz. Kahlua
1/2 oz. spiced pumpkin pie filling
1 oz. coconut rum
1 oz. milk or cream
Shake together and serve over ice. Garnish with cinnamon.
There you have it. One two three and you’re done. The coconut rum and Kahlua add enough of that somewhat dessert-like flavor to make this really taste like a boozy pumpkin pie, sans crust.
A few tips to make it as easy and stress-free as possible for you.
1) If you, like me, don’t have a cocktail shaker, use a bottle used to shake homemade salad dressing. It works just as well, and if you need to, you can add tiny bits of ice to chill it in the process. Really, any small metal, plastic, or glass canister will work, so long as it can be shaken. If you need to strain, simply pour through a tea strainer.
2) I always use plain canned pumpkin when I want to make a pumpkin dessert. I would buy the filling, but unless you plan on making fifty of these drinks, the cans it’s sold in are way too large for one small use. Just remember the golden rule of pumpkin spice: cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Through in a touch of brown or white sugar, and it tastes exactly the same.
When I was a freshman in college I studied abroad, MY FIRST SEMESTER, in London. It was the single most influential experience of my life so far. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a pastry chef, instead of an actress.
If any of you are planning to go to London, I figured I’d compile some special desserts you can try and have while there. I also went to Scotland and Belgium, so there will be a few treats listed from those lovely cities as well.
If you don’t plan on going, hopefully this list will inspire you to do so. I can’t be sure of the exact addresses of these bakeries/etc., but a quick search on google should do the trick. Honestly I found some of the best stuff simply walking around.
So here it goes…London = Sweets.
Though there is a long history of British puddings dating back to the beginning of time, London contains virtually every kind of dessert one can imagine. France definitely has an influence…
As does Belgium…
And Italy via gelato. This is the Banana Royale sundae from Morelli’s Gelato on the ground floor of Harrod’s department store. It is absolutely essential that you visit this place. The clothes are not really geared towards young women, but the food halls sure are. Room upon room of different foods, from chocolates to baked goods to coffee to cheese…god I miss it so much. Anyway, just go for the sundaes, if anything. The Banana Royale is made with vanilla ice cream, sliced bananas, various sauces, and a chocolate cup filled with caramel to drench your sundae in even more saccharine bliss. Be advised that the average price for one is between 11 and 13 pounds; they’re so large, however, that they can be split easily. Naturally I didn’t go down that path.
Speaking of ice cream, I demand that you visit Garlic and Shots. Everything about is garlic, from the coffee to the vodka to the garlic ice cream drenched in honey. I dragged my two friends to go there in the freezing cold just to have some, and my friends, it was worth it. It has all of the pleasant mellowness of a garlic clove roasted in the oven, and the honey only helps to increase the lovely taste. The staff is a bit rough around the edges, but ignore them while you follow up your ice cream with a garlic vodka shot :P.
The next two pictures are of more traditional British sweets: Shortbread and a citrus cake for high tea at the fabulous Kensington Palace. It’s not that much money to have well-dressed waiters treat you like a queen and kiss your ass 😀
Now on to Scotland! I stayed in Edinburgh for the weekend, and the desserts were certainly more traditional than what London had to offer. I don’t have a picture, but visit Chocolate Soup! It’s essentially a hot chocolate shop, but the “soups” are very rich, thick, and have a number of flavors to choose from.
Here’s a picture of sticky toffee pudding I had at a pub. It’s probably the most unsightly thing you’ll ever encounter, but it’s delectably sweet and provokes all who eat it to resort to licking the plate clean of the lava-like sauce that encompasses it.
And here we have flourless chocolate cake. Standard by anyone’s definition, I wanted to add it to the post to assure everyone that accessible American-style desserts are to be found in the Scottish highlands. And no doubt, this was a delicious piece of cake.
And a final word on the desserts of Belgium. Chocolate. Really, there’s little else. In the small city of Brussels, every other store is a chocolate shop, almost all of which feature sweet and creamy handheld replicas of Manneken Pis – that little rascal.
Here’s an example of the numerous piles of chocolat found throughout Brussels.
The coupe is another thing found on nearly every Brussels menu (that I could somewhat read, anyway.) Head over to the restaurant Drug Opera and you’ll be happy to read the long list of coupes – essentially ice cream sundaes – on the menu. I was able to ascertain that the coupe I ordered contained mango and vanilla. Other than that, I simply regarded it as a delight to the senses. If any of you go to Brussels, let me know if this wacky place is still there 🙂
That’s it for now on European desserts. I hope this provided a helpful, if not extremely brief, guideline to what you can expect while out there.
And remember, a biscuit is a cookie!
Thanksgiving is only two weeks and a day away, and already I’m itching to bake some pecan pie and…stuff (more on that when I post all of my desserts for the day.)
But I’d like to bring your attention to a very special, a very informative book. It’s called Thanksgiving 101, and it’s by Rick Rodgers, the supposed Thanksgiving “expert.” I don’t think that’s far from the truth. His recipes are insightful, are preceded by amusing back stories, and get down deep into why things work and don’t. A whole chapter is dedicated to the turkey, and another to sides, soups and salads, appetizers, desserts, and of course: rolls and biscuits. A Thanksgiving table in America is incomplete without a basket of biscuits fresh outta the Pillsbury can…or in your case, from scratch. Even if you’re a college student.
His recipe for buttermilk biscuits is simple, fast, and requires mostly cheap ingredients (save for the buttermilk, but you can make that yourself.) Here’s the recipe, and buy the book! You’ll be glad you did.
1.5 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
1.5 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cream of tartar
1.5 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1) Position rack in top 1/3 of oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) In large bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Gradually add the buttermilk a little at a time, until it all comes together but isn’t too wet. Knead lightly in the bowl to make a soft dough. Do not overwork the dough.
3) One a lightly floured surface, pat out the dough with floured hands to a 3/4 in. thickness (or lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it out.) Using a 2.5 -inch round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and place on ungreased baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, knead gently to combine. Pat out again, and repeat process to get a total of 12 biscuits.
4) Bake until biscuits are risen and golden brown, about 15 minutes. (The biscuits can be baked up to 8 hours ahead, cooled, and stored at room temperate. To reheat, wrap the biscuits, 6 to a pack, in aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.Here’s how I went about it. I’ll give you some tips along the way…
I didn’t have cake flour, so I used whole grain pastry flour from Whole Foods with great results. The key is to have a flour that has a lower gluten content than regular flour. That way, you’ll get a biscuit that is more tender in the end. Being whole grain helps too – it actually cuts the gluten and lessens the chance of the biscuit being tough.
2) When cutting in the butter, it should be cold but not so hard that it’s impossible to work with. Furthermore, if you don’t have a pastry cutter, just use a fork. It’s essentially the same thing, except a pastry cutter has a handle. I’ve even worked butter into flour using my fingers. See? Biscuits are possible with even the most basic of tools – the human body.
3) Be absolutely sure to add the buttermilk a little at a time and to work it in before continuing. The recipe might say a cup and two tablespoons, but it just might not work for you. Only use enough so that the dough can come together in one piece. The same is true for ice water in a pie crust.
4) The recipe could make 12 biscuits, but from what I saw it could make a lot more. Perhaps I spread it too thin, or my cookie cutter was two small, but I definitely cut out at least double that amount. In the end, what size cookie cutter you use doesn’t matter. Just make sure to keep an eye on them, as the biscuits could bake slower or faster than the original recipe states. Also, a tip from the author: If you want fluffy biscuits, place them on the baking sheet with no spaces in between. If you’re looking for a crisper exterior, space an inch or so apart. I like fluffy.
5) When golden and risen, remove from the oven. I suggest eating almost immediately with plenty of butter and wild huckleberry jam! For Thanksgiving, try whipping some softened butter with maple syrup for a death-worthy maple butter. Buy Thanksgiving 101 at Kollege Kitchen, and you shall be happy, I promise.
Have you ever eaten something that you thought tasted and felt really weird, but you couldn’t stop eating it because of how indescribably good it was?
That’s the case with this Poppyseed Torte from the rather high-class-college-student-niche Teens Cook Dessert. The book is definitely meant for students who have more ingredients and space at their disposal, however all of the recipes are quite fast and easy to follow. Furthermore, it’s written by two teenage girls, so one can be pretty certain it’s accessible.
I made some changes to the recipe, and I have a few suggestions for those wishing to save some money for this worthwhile dessert.
1) I added a splash of vodka to the whipped cream topping. It goes great with poppyseeds!
2) I cut the recipe in half and baked it in an 8×8-inch square pan. Instead of using expensive walnuts, I just made the whole crust out of graham crackers.
3) It took me about double the amount of time to cook the custard, so factor that in just incase.
4) I whipped the cream by hand to avoid unecessary clean up (I needed the stand mixer for the egg whites.) To make it easier on yourself, chill a stainless steel bowl and a whisk in the freezer for about 10 minutes prior to whipping the CHILLED heavy cream. Then, whip your heart out – your triceps will thank you.
Here’s the recipe:
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c flour
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c ground walnuts
2 c milk
1 1.2 c sugar
1/4 c poppy seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp (2 packets) powdered gelatin
1/2 c water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c confectioner’s sugar
To prepare the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Stir together the crust ingredients in an ungreased 9×19-in. pan and pat firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
To prepare the filling
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large saucepan and the whites in a large bowl. Add the milk and 1 cup of the sugar to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Add the poppy seeds, salt, and cornstarch and cook, stirring constantly, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until it just begins to bubble and is thick. (Do not allow the mixture to boil or the eggs will curdle.) Remove the pan from the heat.
Combine the gelatin and water and let stand for 5 minutes, or until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir the gelatin into the warm egg yolk mixture.
Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat for 2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. (When the beaters are lifted out of the egg whites, they form peaks that remain upright.) Gently fold the egg whites into the custard. Carefully pour the filling over the crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To prepare the topping
Place the cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 3 minutes, or until soft peaks form. (When the beaters are lifted out of the cream, they form peaks that fold over when the beaters pull away.) Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. Spread the whipped cream over the filling and refrigerate the torte until ready to serve.