National Pumpkin Pie Day

National Pumpkin Pie DayPumpkin pie has been enjoyed in the North American as far back as 1621. As there were no ovens at the time, pumpkin pie then, had no crust. According to historians the first settlers to the New England (USA) area made pumpkin pie by filling a hollowed out pumpkin shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baking it in hot ashes.

By the early 18th century pumpkin pie had earned a place at the dinner table, as Thanksgiving became an important New England regional holiday.

Today the pie is baked with a crust and is a traditional sweet dessert, and is enjoyed more than not during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada.

Pumpkin Pie Basics

Baking a pumpkin pie before 1929 required a person to roast and strain the meat of the gourde or squash. Things changed though in 1929 as Libby’s meat-canning company of Chicago introduced canned pumpkin that replaced the need for roasting and straining one’s own squash.

The pie can be described as a pumpkin-based custard, baked in a single pie shell, and almost never has a top crust, like an apple pie does. A traditional pumpkin pie today is generally flavored with spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Some bakers may go a step further and add cardamom and vanilla.

It is thought that the earliest recipes for pumpkin pie may have come from France. In Francois Pierre La Varenne‘s cookbook of 1653, “The French Cook” his recipe, “Tourte of Pompion” is written, “Boil it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds, letting all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste, and bake it. After it is baked, sprinkle it with sugar and serve.”

Enjoying Pumpkin For Dessert

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin. Since 1929 it was made a lot easier to enjoy it any time of the year. Here are a few recipes that consist of a pumpkin basis.

Double Layer No Bake Pumpkin PieDouble Layer No Bake Pumpkin Pie

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon half & half
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups of whipped heavy cream, or cool whip
1 – 9 inch prepared graham cracker crust (store bought or prepare a homemade crust)
1 cup cold half & half
2 – 3.5 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 – 15 ounce can solid pack pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of half and half, and sugar until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream, and it is best to avoid over mixing. Spread mixture into the bottom of a prepared graham cracker crust.

Refrigerate while preparing the next layer:

In a large bowl whisk pudding mix and 1 cup of half and half until thickened, fold in pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Gently spread over cream cheese layer. Place in refrigerate for up to 4 hours, or until set.

If you wish, drizzle lightly with caramel sauce and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and toffee bits before serving.

Then there is…

Pumpkin-Pie ParfaitsPumpkin-Pie Parfaits

Recipe Courtesy of Pint Sized Treasures

 

For the pumpkin layer:

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cookie layer:

4 honey graham cracker sheets

4 Tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Homemade Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large mixing bowl, place all pumpkin layer ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy, approximately four minutes. Place in freezer for a quick chill while you prepare your other ingredients.

Stir all cookie layer ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, mix whipping cream on medium high until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat an additional minute.

Layer parfait glasses very gently following this pattern: cookie mixture, whipped cream, pumpkin layer, whipped cream, pumpkin layer and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle remaining cookie layer on top. Repeat for each parfait.

Gluten Free Pumpkin CheesecakeYou can also enjoy Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake or Layered Pumpkin and Cranberry Parfaits, and Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping.

Today, October 12th is National Pumpkin Pie Day, enjoy a slice or two, or any dessert with pumpkin in it. We plan to enjoy a Spiced Pumpkin Latte.

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National Fudge Day

National Fudge Day

If you do not have a reason to celebrate something today, why not celebrate National Fudge Day! Yes June 16th is the day chosen to celebrate fudge.

Fudge is a splendid confection made with sugar, milk, butter, and your favorite flavoring. Some popular varieties include mixing chocolate with peanut butter, maple, caramel, peppermint, and marshmallow.

Scottish Tablet

Whisky Flavored Scottish Tablet – photo credit: Sweets for Treats

Were you aware that fudge used to be chocolate-less? The modern-day fudge we enjoy evolved from a candy called Scottish Tablet, which originated in the late 17th century.

While the recipes are some what similar, Scottish Tablet has a much harder texture and lacks the most important ingredient, chocolate!

Candy ThermometerPreparing  fudge may seem easy enough, but it does require a candy thermometer, as fudge is very easy to overcook or under cook.

There are some fudge recipes that have been developed for the home cook.

The recipes may include corn syrup, which prevents the process of crystallization, sweet condensed milk, marshmallow cream or other ingredients that guarantee the perfect fudge texture.

Though they do not guarantee the same taste as original fudge!

To get that original fudge flavor, you will need to use a traditional recipe with a candy thermometer or buy your favorite fudge at your local See’s Candy store or favorite equivalent and enjoy National Fudge Day.

Our featured recipe is Easy Chocolate Fudge and here is what you will need.

12 ounces semi-dark chocolate

2 cups coconut sugar

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans

To make things even simpler, replace milk and coconut sugar with a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

Prepare a 8 inch x 8 inch square baking pan lined with foil. Set aside.

Melt chocolate  in a glass bowl over hot boiling water. Once melted, remove hot water from pan and pour melted chocolate into pan and place back over heated element.

Add coconut sugar, and milk. Stir into chocolate, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer. Do not stir again.

If you are using a candy thermometer, place it  into the pan and cook until temperature reaches 238 degrees.

If you are not using a thermometer, then cook fudge until a drop it in cold water forms a soft ball. Feel the ball with your fingers to make sure it is the right consistency. It should flatten when pressed between your fingers.

Remove from heat. Add nuts, butter and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge loses its sheen. Do not under beat.

If using the sweetened condensed milk, just add to chocolate after it has melted, and stir in. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and vanilla. When using the sweetened condensed milk, there is no need for a candy thermometer.

Pour into prepared pan and let cool. Then place pan in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until firm. Lift foil and all from pan, and cut into about 50 squares. Save fudge wrapped in plastic wrap. 

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Sweet Milk Sandwich Cookies

Sweet Milk Sandwich CookiesGail Borden was a teacher, land surveyor, inventor, real estate salesman and editor. He also invented condensed milk. He patented the canned milk in 1856, and preserved it by adding sugar. So thanks to him we can have Sweet Milk Sandwich Cookies.

To start here is what you will need:

1 (17 ½ oz.) sugar cookie mix

1 cup shredded coconut

½ cup pecan halves, finely chopped

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 egg

1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

beat a medium eggIn a large bowl beat 1 medium egg. Mix in the butter, cookie mix along with the chopped nuts and coconut. First start the mixing with a large fork. As the wet ingredients start to mix with the dry ingredients; put fork aside and use your hands to continue the mixing until you have firm dough.

prepared dough for Sweet Milk Sandwich CookiesDivide the dough in half and sprinkle some flour onto a cutting board and flour your rolling pin. Then start to roll the dough about 1/4 inches thick.

rolling dough out for Sweet Milk Sandwich CookiesThis recipe will make about 4 dozen cookies. Two dozen will make one dozen sandwich cookies and so on. Divide the dough into two halves. Roll out each half enough to make 24 – 2 inch round cookies. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Place cookies on a light colored cookie sheet. Notice I am referring to a light colored pan? The darker the pan color the greater chance your cookies will be darker on the bottom sides, possibly to the point of burning. So I always use a glass baking pan or light colored nonstick metal baking pans.

After your dough is rolled out, the cookies are cut and placed on the cookie sheet, bake 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove to a wire rack until they cool completely.

cookies prepared to receive sweet milk and coconutAfter the cookies are done and have cooled about a good 20 to 30 minutes…place 48 cookies on a clean cutting board as shown in the picture.

Next open a room temperature 14 oz. can of sweet milk and on the 2nd and 4th rolls spread 1 tsp. evenly over each cookie.

cookies laid out to put sweet milk and coconut on themNow on the 1st and 3rd rolls place a dab or two of sweet milk. With 1/2 cup of coconut sprinkle generously the coconut around the outer edges of the cookies with the ones that have the 1 tsp. of sweet milk.

sweet milk cookies ready to become cookie sandwichesPlace the 1st and 3rd roll of cookies over the ones with the coconut on them to form a Sweet Milk Sandwich Cookie.

Sweet Milk Sandwich Cookies prepared for refrigerationAfter cookies have set with the sweet milk, remove from refrigerator and place on a plate.

Sweet Milk Sandwich CookiesWe hope that you can make these cookies for your family and friends. Oh so sweet are those Sweet Milk Sandwich Cookies.

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Mexican Desserts to Satisfy Any Sweet Tooth

Mexican Dessert Menu

 

If you hear “Mexican food,” your thoughts may instantly turn to enchiladas, burritos, guacamole, Pico de Gallo and fajitas. But what comes after those savory, spicy delights?

Something sweet, of course!

The best way to wrap up a delicious Mexican meal is with a classic Mexican dessert. Sweet and decadent, the three tasty desserts listed below never go out of style. What’s even better is they are all easy to make once you know how!

Let’s take a look at these desserts and get busy planning your next adventure in Mexican cooking.

Flan

Flan

Flan

This ancient recipe can be traced all the way back to Rome where chickens were first known to be used just for their eggs. This custard dish was originally a savory meal, but was so versatile that it soon became flavored with other natural ingredients, like honey.

We can see an evolution of flan through the centuries and across borders. Because flan is such a simple dish to make, it became popular with many cultures, each adding their own local special touches. We can see the Spanish influence in the Mexican recipes which are traditionally sweetened with a glaze of caramelized sugar.

When Columbus journeyed to the Americas, he brought with him his love of flan and his recipes. Flan became a classic dessert in Mexican homes. Chickens – and their eggs – were plentiful, making this dessert affordable for all people of any economic status.

This wonderfully elegant, yet simple dessert remains virtually unchanged in Mexican cooking where it is basic custard, molded, then turned over onto a plate. It may have a caramel coating or caramelized sugar coating, and is served either room temperature or cold.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches

Tres Leches

Cake is good, but cake soaked in something delicious is better. Like flan, you can trace this type of cake way back to ancient times. There are soaked cakes on every continent with so many variations that it boggles the mind.

For instance, rum or sherry soaked cakes are very British, while fruit juice soaked cakes are a familiar dessert in tropical regions. Cakes soaked in wine are common in Italy and France. It seems that each version has reasons why the ingredients are what they are. The Mexican version features a sweet spongy cake soaked in three kinds of milk.

This dessert, the Tres Leches Cake, translates to “3 milks” cake. The origin of that term and the recipe itself is still questionable. Some believe the recipe originated with the introduction of condensed and evaporated milk. The three milks included in most recipes for Tres Leches Cake are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.

No matter what the origin of the recipe is, the combination of these three rich milks makes one delightful dessert.

You can serve your Tres Leches Cake with a layer of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon, topped with fruit, or plain. It’s a nice treat any way you choose.

Empanadas

When you think of an empanada, you could be thinking of many types of foods. As a matter of fact, the word simply means a pastry. That leaves a lot to the imagination, but the basic design is the same for any recipe.

The pastry itself is simple, much like a pie pastry. You form a circle or a square, spoon in the filling, fold, seal and bake or fry. The filling is what makes the dish. In this case, we are making a Mexican dessert so we are going to stick to a sweet filling.

In Mexico, a dessert empanada could contain many fruits and other fillings, but what comes to mind, of course, is bananas along with another Mexican favorite, chocolate. Nuts would add a lot of flavor and texture to this dessert. As with many authentic Mexican recipes, keeping the empanada pastry plain and simple is traditional. If you want to get a little more creative, try using puff pastry instead.

If you are not a fan of making homemade pastry, go ahead and use pre-made pie crusts, frozen empanada discs or other pastry dough. As long as it’s flaky, hot, and sweet, your Mexican empanada dessert will be perfect.

Try your hand at these three desserts the next time you want to treat your family to something deliciously sweet after dinner. These classic Mexican desserts will become family favorites in no time!

 

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Chocó Flan

Chocolate Flan

This cake is two desserts in one. How so? Will as you see in the image there is a chocolate cake on the bottom and a Spanish Custard or Flan on the top. But it did not start out that way. This dessert is also known by the name…Impossible Cake.

The reason it goes by that name is because you make the chocolate cake first and pour it into the mold, and then you make the flan or custard part and pour it over the chocolate cake. No, the egg mixture does not go to the bottom.

But….while it is baking, the custard part does pass to the bottom while the chocolate mixture floats to the top. Therefore, the name Impossible Cake. But how does that happen, one might ask? My explanation is, that oil and water do not mix. Oil floats to the top while water stays at the bottom.

The cake has oil or fat in it, were as the custard part has water. How is that, you ask? No water was added to the egg mixture. Eggs are 75% moisture or water.

The header image to this article shows the Flan or custard a bit dry. But it wasn’t. I made that cake in Mexico using a propane burning stove, not natural gas. My experience shows that the two gases bake your desserts differently. It was very delicious.

To the left side of the image you should see a bottle that is brown and with the name Cajeta Envinada. It is like sweeten condensed milk with caramel sauce mixed in. The Cajeta was made with goats milk, wow so yummy!!

Here is what you will need:

Mold:

12-cup capacity Bundt pan
butter, room temperature, to coat pan

½ cup cajeta or caramel sauce; divided
Cake:
10 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
Flan:
1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a tea kettle full of water for a water bath. Coat Bundt pan with butter, then coat the bottom with ¼ cup cajeta and set aside.

 

Flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Cake: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and ½ of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat ending with the flour mixture. Making sure all cake ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan; spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and put into a roasting pan. Add hot water to the roasting pan, half ways up the outside of Bunt pan.

Place the roasting pan into the oven on center rack; bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath. Remove foil and cool about 30 minutes. Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together and flip over. Plate and serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

Plated Choco Flan with caramel sauceIf your Chocolate Flan should be a bit dry, not to worry. Just pour some extra Cajeta on each plated dessert served. You and your guests will enjoy this, unless you keep it all to yourself!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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