Butternut Squash Pie with Speculoos Cookie Crust and Pecan Streusel

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

I love baking pies, you guys. For me there’s no better way to spend a cold autumn morning than baking a pie and listening to my favorite holiday mix. We’ve finally had some cooler weather and rain in California, so it was time to wake and bake. Pumpkin? Nah, been there. Sweet potato? Nah, done that. Butternut squash?  Yes. Butternut squash is probably my most favorite of the squashes, but I’d never had it in pie form, so I was unreasonably excited.

I didn’t feel like using regular pie crust, either. I’m such a rebel \m/. I thought maybe it would be nice with a cookie crust. *Light bulb* Have you ever had speculoos cookies? Jesus C. they’re good. They’re spiced and very crunchy. Perfect for crust making.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for. The filling has a similar consistency to pumpkin and sweet potato pie, but it has more of a fruity aroma and taste. The spiced cookie crust paired well with it and gave a nice texture. I added a pecan streusel on top because I like the roasted nut flavor along side all the sweetness. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a foodie d-bag. I won’t go on and on with the Top Chef style food chatter, but basically the pie is yummy and you should make it. Here’s the recipe.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust
Speculoos Cookie Crust:
1 pack of Speculoos cookies, 1 1/2 cups of crumbs
5 tbs melted butter

Use a blender or food processor to finely crush your cookies into crumbs. (If you don’t have either of those appliances, put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Melt butter on stove stop or microwave. Mix melted butter and crumbs together until it has a wet sand consistency. It should hold together when you pinch it. If your crust is still a little dry and won’t hold together, you can add a bit more melted butter until it does.  Put in pie pan and use your hands or a measuring cup to press and flatten the crumbs to the bottom and up against the sides.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it has set and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

This part of the pie is optional but highly recommended.

Pecan Streusel Topping

Pecan Streusel Topping (Optional):
1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss ingredients together and reserve for sprinkling on top of pie halfway through baking.

Now for the filling.

Butternut Squash Pie Filling Recipe

Pie Filling:
1 large butternut squash (approx. 2- 2/12 cups of puree)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

There are a few different methods to cooking the squash. First is the method I used because it gives a nice roasted flavor and cooks faster:
1.Peel, cut into large chunks, and roast at 400 degrees for 40-ish minutes.
Or, alternatively you can:
2. Cut it in half and bake it cut side down, for about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Peel, cut into large chunks, and boil until tender.

Let it cool and then puree it.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice and mix really well. Stir in the butternut squash puree and cream and mix until smooth. Pour into the prepared pie shell.

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Bake for about 45 minutes until filling has set and slightly risen in the middle. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. [Note: If using optional streusel mixture, sprinkle onto pie after 20 minutes and then continue baking for 25 more minutes]

Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

 

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Up until this week my husband and I had never had a concord grape. Well, aside from the grape jellies and juices made from them. They have been seemingly unfindable in our local markets, and believe me we have searched! A few days ago, across a crowded room, I locked eyes with the voluptuous purple grapes sitting there in the produce section. It was like finally finding the one you’ve always been searching for. I know, I know, THEY’RE JUST GRAPES (blahblahblah), but I was very excited.

Anyway, the grapes are good. They taste exactly how I thought they would, because they basically taste like grape jelly. I can get down with that.

Now we had to decide what to do with them. Rosemary seemed like a great companion. For acidity, balsamic vinegar sounded perfect. White balsamic though. It’s is milder in flavor and has its own taste that we prefer over regular balsamic vinegar in this particular recipe.

Spoon cakes are great dessert to whip up. No cooling, frosting, or layering required. Just pour the batter into a pie or baking dish and then spoon it out for everyone once it’s ready. Spoon cakes also have a casual style and appeal that I like for family style meals and gatherings.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Anyway enough of my rambling, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients
1lb Concord Grapes
1tbs Honey
1tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
1tbs Rosemary (Roughly chopped)
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8″ deep pie dish or cake pan.
In a bowl, toss the grapes with honey, white balsamic vinegar, and rosemary and set aside.
In another bowl, sift the flour, salt, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes, until thick and pale yellow (a ribbon should form when you lift the beater).
Fold in the dry ingredients gently with a spatula, until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter into the baking dish, and gently spread the grapes on top. They’ll sink and settle nicely into the cake.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

This tastes best when served warm. It also tastes amazing with vanilla ice cream. To me, nothing is better than a warm piece of spoon cake with cold ice cream. Get. It.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream Recipe

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream

Fall is almost here and that means one thing: PUMPKIN. Pumpkin flavored food has become an American tradition and our appetite for it only seems to be growing. Forget the leaves. Forget the sweaters. We want our pumpkin flavored foods and we want them now! Bring on the cookies, pies, and bread puddings.

I usually like to wait until summer is officially over before I indulge in autumnal themed foods, but this ice cream is the perfect recipe to transition you into fall. It’s a cool treat but with all the warm flavors of the season: pumpkin, spice, and bourbon.

It took a couple of tries but I think we nailed it with this recipe. The texture is light and creamy and all of the flavors harmoniously hit your palate. You can taste the pumpkin, spices, and bourbon without one outshining the others.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup bourbon

In a bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg, 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and sugar is dissolved.

Then, in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly at a low simmer for about 5 minutes and it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is run through it. Do not boil! Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.

Note: You can cool the mixture in an ice bath by placing the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. This will cool the custard faster. Otherwise, place plastic wrap directly over the custard (to avoid a skin from forming) and let cool on countertop, before refrigerating.

Whisk the pumpkin mixture and the bourbon into the chilled custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s instructions. For firmer ice cream, transfer to freezer safe container and freeze for an additional 2-3 hours.

Makes about 1.5 quarts

Serve with crumbled graham crackers or speculoos cookies for added delight.

Pumpkin Bourbon Ice Cream Recipe

 
Special thanks to Cuisinart®.

Aperol Pistachio Ice Cream Soda

Remember when you were a kid and you were all like “I wonder what these things would taste like if I mix them together…” and then you’d come up with some crazy concoction and make your friends eat it? That’s something I still do. Except I’m way better at it now and I take great care not to make people gag when they taste it.

Genius struck when I was going to town on a pint of pistachio and thought to myself: “Self, that Aperol over there would probably go pretty swell with this pistachio gelato. How could it possibly be bad? I mean they’re both Italian, right?” After all, Pistachio pairs well with rhubarb and citrus, both of which are part of Aperol’s ingredients and flavor profile. I also recall a cocktail from the Kensington Hotel in London that was made with Aperol and dry pistachio.

Well I was right. Guys, I was on a tasty mission and this ice cream soda was it.

Aperol Pistachio Ice Cream Soda

 

Ingredients

Pistachio Gelato or Ice Cream
Aperol
Seltzer Water

Pour 1 1/2 ounce of Aperol into a glass. Add two 2 scoops.  Top it off with seltzer. Watch it all fizz up and float together.

 

Aperol Pistachio Ice Cream Soda Aperol Pistachio Ice Cream Soda

Serve with straws and spoons for ultimate enjoyment. And then eat it. It’s SO good. Boozy ice cream sodas are definitely a must have for your next shindig.

 

Mini Pie Cupcakes – They’re Cupcakes with Pie Inside!

Mini Pie Cupcakes? Mini PieCakes? CupPieCakes?

Call them whatever you want but these are my new favorite things. Remember the pie-cake I made? It’s almost like that, but in cupcake form. Sure, the cake was good, but most of the time I’ll pick cupcakes over cake. This version is more simple and mild, but still very delicious and interesting. These cupcakes were a lot easier to manage and took a lot less time than the monster pie-cake. So if you’re feeling intimidated by pie-cakes because of flavor and effort, try this instead.

This time I made the cake and frosting from scratch, which I very much prefer and will do next time I attempt a pie-cake. What I didn’t make from scratch were the mini pies. It would be simple enough to do that using a mini cupcake tin, but it wasn’t necessary because Trader Joe’s has the best mini pies ever. Are you familiar with this medley of fruit pies? Well, you should be.

Trader Joes Mini Pies

All you need to do is whip up some cake batter and frosting (your own recipe or boxed is fine) and buy (or make) some mini pies. If you’re using frozen pies, let them thaw out for a bit.

Pie inside of a cupcake!

I made my favorite yellow cake recipe. It has a classic flavor and is the perfect density to hold the pie.

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Cream room temperature butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat. Gradually add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time) and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add them to the butter mixture alternating with the milk.

Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Pour a small amount of batter into the liner and push it up the sides a little. Place the mini pie in and top with more cake batter. Bang the pan on the counter to make sure everything is settled in there. Then bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Mini Pie Cupcakes. Pie inside of the cupcake!

The frosting I used is a simple buttercream.

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

Cream together the butter and vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar and add it to the butter mixture. Scrape down the bowl often to make sure all everything is mixed in. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until it’s your desired consistency. Beat until smooth for about 2-4 minutes.

Pie filled cupcakes!What you get is PIE INSIDE OF CAKE IN CUPCAKE FORM. You get the best of both worlds. The pie center is so good. And the piecrust goes super well with the fluffy cake. It’s basically a dream hybrid dessert.

Introducing the Banana Split PieCake

Let’s talk about pie-cake. It’s like the turducken of cakes. A piecaken? Who knows where this thing even got started but the first one I ever saw was when Charles Phoenix made his cherpumple (cherry/pumpkin/apple) cake. It’s 3 layers of cake with pies baked into each one. I always try explaining this to people and they look at me like I have three heads until I show them a picture. So here.

Cherpumple
Naturally I was excited by two of my favorite things coming together to make a monster dessert and I wanted to make one.

I figured it could work with other flavor combos, and I just so happened to have been craving a banana split, so I devised a plan to make my very own banana split inspired piecake.

To me the perfect banana split consists of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams topped with pineapple, chocolate, and strawberry sauces. Lots of cherries and whipped cream. So, I would do:

Vanilla cake with Cherry Pie
Chocolate Cake with Pineapple Pie
Strawberry Banana Filling
Whipped Buttercream Frosting
And then a topping of cherries, chocolate sauce, and more bananas.

Sounds good right? I went out and bought all the ingredients and then I thought, “WHO THE F IS GOING TO EAT ALL OF THIS WITH ME?” I figured it would be better to bake it while we were in Florida visiting family and friends. I could serve it to them at our little shindig. So I put it off and waited until we got to my friend Alan’s house.

Alan has a great kitchen for cooking and baking, but Alan is also a bachelor who had nothing I needed to properly execute this cake. I used some serious ingenuity, my friends. I ended up mixing my boxed cake up in a giant stock pot, by hand, with a wooden spoon. Don’t even ask me how I did the rest. It’s all a blur. I will tell you that Winn-Dixie sold me rancid butter so I gave up and bought canned frosting. I will also tell you that Publix didn’t have a pineapple pie so I had to make one. Luckily that’s the easiest thing to make. For the filling, I melted 4tbs melted with 4 tbs flour and then mixed in a large can of crushed pineapple, a tbs of honey, and a tbs of sugar. I threw it into a frozen pie shell and topped it with more dough. It made a very suitable pineapple pie. Oh God, who am I? Sandra Lee?

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 pineapple pie, homemade or store bought
1 cherry pie, homemade or store bought
2 cups macerated strawberries (mix 1 pound of strawberries with 2 tbs sugar, let stand for 30 minutes)
2  large bananas, sliced
Frosting
Chocolate sauce
Maraschino cherries
Anyway it was time to put this cake together so here’s what I did…

Pour half of your cake batter into a deep 9″ cake pan. De-tin the pie and plop it inside.

How to make a PieCake

Then cover with more of your cake batter.

Something I learned for next time is that I won’t use all of the batter and I won’t follow the box instructions for baking the cake. Because of the pie in the middle, the cake takes forever to bake. Most cakes bake at around 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I think baking at a lower temperature is better, like 325 or so, for a longer baking time, about 60 minutes. That will help the cake bake evenly so you don’t end up with dry edges.

How to make a PieCake

After baking, let the cakes cool completely before taking them out of the pan. Then make your filling. I just macerated strawberries by mixing about one pound of strawberries with 2 tbs of sugar and letting them sit out for about 30 minutes.

Now put it all together. Lay the first layer on a platter, frost it, top with strawberries and sliced banana, then lay the next layer on top. Frost and top with bananas, chocolate sauce, and maraschino cherries.

Banana Split Pie Cake
Banana Split PieCake

Here’s what it looks like inside.

Banana Split Pie Cake

Not a bad first attempt! It was tasty and verrryyy filling. Now that I’ve picked up some tips and I’m back in my own kitchen, I think I’m ready for another go at it. Now I just need to decide what flavor combo to do next. Banana Split PieCake!

 

 

Watermelon St. Germain Boozesicles

I’m a little bit obsessed with boozy popsicles right now. I can’t help it. They’re such a treat.

Here’s my latest boozy pop, guys. Watermelon, vodka, and St. Germain. I had one for breakfast this morning.

Watermelon St. Germain Vodka Boozesicle

Ingredients:

2 cups watermelon puree
4 tbs vodka
3 tbs St. Germain
1 tbs honey
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Watermelon St. Germain Popsicle

Blend it all together, freeze it, and eat it. Now grab a watermelon and get to it.