Frosted Pumpkin Bars

frosted pumpkin bars

I know it’s technically not fall yet, but because Starbucks has started making their pumpkin spice lattes already, I feel like I’m allowed to start posting pumpkin recipes. If you stopped by this blog last fall, you’ll know I’m a big fan of pumpkin. I’m the girl that walks into Trader Joe’s and comes out with pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin spiced tea, and pumpkin ice cream, in addition to the obvious choice of pumpkin purée. While canned pumpkin may be around all year in major grocery stores, it just doesn’t feel quite right eating pumpkin-flavored food in the spring or summer. That’s why I go crazy when it’s this time of the year. My pumpkin love fest, as I’ve dubbed it, is kicking off this year with these frosted pumpkin bars. 

frosted pumpkin bars

I got the recipe for these bars from my WS Cooking at Home cookbook. The best way I can describe these bars is by telling you that they’re essentially pumpkin pie without the crust. They’re slightly less moist and gooey like pumpkin pie, otherwise they’d need a crust just like the pie does to keep things intact. Instead, these bars can be picked up by hand like a brownie can, but they’re obviously less cake-y.

frosted pumpkin bars frosted pumpkin bars

The pumpkin bars are topped with cream cheese frosting, as all good spiced treats are. They’re simple, not too sweet, and perfect with a cup of coffee. Follow the tutorial below to learn just how easy it is to make them!

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First, mix your dry ingredients together. You’re going to whisk 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of all-spice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 

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Whisk until combined well. Now, add in your wet ingredients. Pour in 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil, 1 cup of pumpkin purée, and 2 eggs.

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Beat until batter is smooth. 

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Pour batter into a square baking pan that’s either been greased very well or fitted with a piece of parchment paper. 

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Bake at 350°F for 18 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Lift the parchment paper out of the pan and set it on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, create your cream cheese frosting by beating 1 stick of unsalted butter (at room temperature) with 8 oz of cream cheese.

IMG_8112 Beat until smooth.  Stop and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar. 

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Add in a couple of teaspoons of milk to get your frosting into a spreadable consistency. 

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Once your bars have completely cooled, use a frosting spatula to spread the frosting all over the top of the bars until it’s even and smooth. 

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Use a sharp knife to create squares (however many you want – either 9, 12, or 16 depending on how big you want the bars to be).

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frosted pumpkin bars

Frosted Pumpkin Bars
These frosted pumpkin bars taste like delicious pumpkin pie filling and are topped with a sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients for the Bars
  1. 1 c all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 c white granulated sugar
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 1/2 tsp all-spice
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1 c pumpkin purée
  8. 1/2 c vegetable oil
  9. 2 eggs
Ingredients for the Frosting
  1. 1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 8 oz of cream cheese
  3. 1 c powdered sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2-3 teaspoons of milk, to loosen up frosting
Instructions
  1. Mix all your dry ingredients together in a large bowl (or your mixer's bowl). Whisk until combined well.
  2. Add in your wet ingredients and mix until batter is smooth.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared 9 inch square baking pan that's either been greased very well or fitted with a piece of parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Once pumpkin bars have baked, lift up the parchment paper (with the bars on it) out of the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your frosting by beating cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until blended in. Add in your couple teaspoons of milk and mix again to loosen up frosting to a spreadable consistency.
  6. Once pumpkin bars are completely cool, use a frosting spatula to spread the cream cheese frosting all over the tops of the bars. Use a shark knife to cut them into squares. You can either do 3x3, 4x3, or 4x4 squares depending on how big you want them to be.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cooking at Home
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cooking at Home
Mon Petit Four http://monpetitfour.com/

Sweet Summer Peach Pie

peach pie

I’ve always loved summer peaches. I used to think they were the most magical, juicy fruit on earth. I think this affinity for them began when I read the famous tale of “James and the Giant Peach.” As a little girl in grade school, I distinctly remember the way author Roald Dahl appealed to my senses when writing about James’s first experience eating a peach:

The walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling. James opened his mouth and caught some of it on his tongue. It tasted delicious. 

I didn’t eat peaches very often, but boy, that definitely had me longing for one. And as I was making this pie, I could think of nothing but James and his adventure. How wet and sticky peaches are indeed, I thought, as I peeled and sliced my peaches. I popped a peach slice into my mouth for a taste test, a futile excuse really. The aroma of the fresh peaches was enough to let me know this peach pie would be absolutely divine.
peach pie
I obtained this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen. It’s simple, juicy, and positively tantalizing. I like the fact that this pie isn’t too sweet. Instead, the recipe relies much of its sweetness on the use of ripe, summer peaches. If you happen to make this recipe when it’s not peach season (a.k.a. it’s not summer), then feel free to utilize an extra 1/3 cup of each sugar (white and brown) than this recipe calls for.
peach pie

Let me show you how to make this pie:

Begin by preparing your pie crust. Combine 2 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Whisk together in a large bowl before adding 2 sticks of cold, unsalted butter that’s been cut into cubes.

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Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until you get a course mixture with crumbles no bigger than the size of a pea.

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Now, add in 1/2 a cup of cold water and create a compact ball out of your dough. Split the ball into 2 pieces, flattening each piece into a disc shape. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, create your pie filling. You’ll want to begin by submerging 6 large peaches into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Try to fit in as many peaches as you can (the most I could do at one time was 4).

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After 2 minutes, use a slotted spoon to gently lift the peaches out of the boiling water and transfer them to a bowl of ice water. They should rest in the ice water for a minute to stop the cooking process and make them easy to handle. 

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Now, use a sharp knife to cut an X into the bottom of each peach, cutting only into the skin and not the flesh. Use this cut to take hold of the peach skin and begin peeling.  

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Take each peach and slice them into 1/2 inch wedges, taking care to remove the pits and stems. This is probably the most difficult part of making the pie because without the fuzzy skin, peaches are really slippery to handle! Place all the wedges in a large bowl. Squeeze half a lemon’s worth of juice over all the slices. Set aside.

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In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons of corn starch. Whisk until completely combined. 

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 Add this mixture of dry ingredients to the bowl of peach slices and stir until all the peaches are coated in the mixture. Let them sit in this mixture for a couple of minutes. 

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 Once the pie crust is ready, flour your work surface very well. Work with one pie crust disc at a time. Sprinkle some flour on top of the pie crust before slowly and gently rolling it out in a large 12-13 inch circle. Remember, work slowly, rotating the crust a quarter-turn often to get as even of a circle as you can. Sprinkle more flour as needed.

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Gently lift the pie crust and place it into a greased pie pan. Spoon your peach slices (trying not to scoop too much of the extra juices with it) into the pan. 

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Roll out your second pie crust into another 12-13 inch circle. You can either simply place this second pie crust on top of the filling, making a few long slices on top to vent out steam, or create a lattice design. To create the lattice design, check out this great tutorial from Simply Recipes for step-by-step instruction on how to do it. 

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Bake the pie at 425°F for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 30 minutes. I didn’t use any egg wash on my pie crust because I find that it often browns the crust too soon. Once it’s ready, let the pie cool for at least 3 hours so that the juices thicken and the pie isn’t super runny when you slice into it. 

peach pie

peach pie

Tools to Shop for this Recipe:

Peach Pie
A summer favorite, this peach pie utilizes fresh market peaches and a flaky pie crust that'll leave you wishing summertime would never end!
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients for the Crust
  1. 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
  2. 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 2 sticks (or 1 c) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  5. 1/2 c very cold water
Ingredients for the Filling
  1. 6 large peaches
  2. juice of 1/2 a lemon
  3. 1/4 c granulated sugar (+ 1/3 cup more if peaches are not very sweet)
  4. 1/4 c brown sugar (+ 1/3 cup more if peaches are not very sweet)
  5. 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. dash of nutmeg
  7. 1/8 tsp salt
  8. 3 tbsp cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Create the crust by combining flour, sugar, and salt. Drop in butter cubes and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. You should get a course mixture with crumbles no bigger than the size of a pea.
  2. Pour the cold water into the pie dough and use your hands to mold the dough together to create a compact ball. Split this ball into 2 equal pieces, then shape each piece into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F. While dough chills, get started on your pie filling. Begin by submerging your peaches in a pot of boiling water. Try to fit in as many peaches as you can, then repeat this step for the remaining peaches. After 2 minutes of sitting in the boiling water, use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to a bowl of ice water. Let the peaches sit in the ice water for a minute to stop the cooking process.
  4. Take a sharp knife and make a very shallow X-shaped cut into the bottom of each peach, taking care to only slice through the skin and not the flesh. Use this opening to grab hold of the skin and peel the peach. Then slice each peach into 1/2 inch wedges, removing the pits. Place all of the peach wedges into a large bowl and add the lemon juice. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, combine your sugars, spices, salt, and cornstarch. Whisk until completely blended. Pour these dry ingredients over the peaches and use a rubber spatula to stir everything together until the peach slices are all coated in the mixture. Let the peaches rest in this mixture for a couple of minutes.
  6. Once your pie crust has chilled, flour your work surface very well. Work with one pie dough disc at a time. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough before using a rolling pin to roll it out into 12-13 inch circle. You'll want to roll slowly and gently, making sure to often rotate the dough a quarter-turn so that you get as even of a circle shape as you can. Sprinkle flour as needed.
  7. Gently lift your dough onto a greased 9-inch pie pan and center it as best you can. Spoon your peach filling (trying not to get too many of the juices with it) into the pie pan. Roll out your second pie dough disc just like you did the first one, then decide what kind of top crust design you'd like to achieve. You can either simply place the crust on top of the filling, making a few long cuts to vent the steam as it bakes, or do something a little fancier like a lattice design. Whatever you decide to do, place your finished crust on top of the peach filling, pinching the rim of the top crust onto the edges of the bottom crust to seal the filling in.
  8. Bake your pie at 425°F for 20 minutes before lowering the heat to 375°F and baking for another 30 minutes. Cool your pie for at least 3 hours to make sure the filling properly thickens and isn't too runny when you slice into the pie.
Notes
  1. I didn't use egg wash on my crust because I find that it browns too soon, but you can always take your pie out of the oven when it's close to being done and brush some on if you like your crust golden brown.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Mon Petit Four http://monpetitfour.com/

Saffron Aioli

saffron aioli

In America, ketchup is often the condiment of choice when it comes to having a dipping sauce for fries or using it in a marinade like BBQ sauce, which is typically sweet. In France, however, you’ll find a side of mayonnaise to be more common than a bottle of ketchup. The French love mayo and they often make it themselves. I personally have always had an affinity for mayo than ketchup. While I’m the first person to claim a sweet tooth, I typically prefer a separation of savory and sweet foods. Ketchup on a burger or fries tastes too sweet to me. Instead, I love creating this saffron aioli as a delicious condiment for my foods.
saffron aioli
Traditional aioli is a combination of mayo, olive oil, and garlic. It’s a quintessential Provençal dish enjoyed by the southern region of France. While you most certainly can add various herbs like thyme or rosemary, I like adding saffron because I find it lends a more subtle earthy taste that pairs well with the garlic and mayo. Up until recently, I never really used saffron in my cooking, as delicious as it is, because of my lack of knowledge on how to properly use it. Sure, you can dump a few threads in your sauce, but that’s not really the best way to obtain the most flavor and aroma from it, and since saffron is crazy expensive, I couldn’t afford to waste any of it. So, of course, I turned to my parents, who I like to think are saffron connoisseurs, coming from a Persian background. They grew up eating saffron and know the difference between pure, quality saffron and the tasteless, aroma-lacking saffron you often find in specialty markets. In fact, my parents recently launched their own food company, All Natural Quest Inc., which has a product called Spray ‘N’ Serve™ Saffron, which is essentially a spray form of the spice saffron. I like to think I was their inspiration because they solved my saffron dilemma, and I couldn’t be any more grateful. Now I can flavor my aioli with a couple of quick sprays rather than grind it, brew it, or worse, spend $20 on a measly gram of saffron.
saffron aioli
I like smearing my saffron aioli on fish or using it as a dipping sauce for potato wedges. The potato wedges make a great appetizer because they’re easy to make and easy to eat. Sometimes this dish is too easy to eat!

Saffron Aioli
Garlic, oil, mayo, and saffron come together to create this favorite Provencal blend.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small piece of white bread, crust removed and torn into pieces.
  2. A tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  3. 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 large egg yolk
  5. 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
  6. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  7. 1 heaping tbsp of mayo
  8. pinch of salt and pepper, or more to taste
  9. 1/2 c olive oil (not E.V.O.O.)
  10. 2-3 sprays of Spray 'N' Serve™ saffron spray
  11. about 1 lb. of cooked potato wedges, seasoned with salt, pepper, and/or herbs
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, pour your white wine vinegar over the bread pieces. Let the bread absorb the vinegar for at least 5 minutes. Clump the bread into one chunk and squeeze out the excess vinegar. Set bread aside.
  2. To your food processor, add in your minced garlic, egg yolk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Give this mixture a pulse until it's blended well. Add in the bread chunk, mayo, salt, and pepper. Give this mixture a few pulses and then as the food processor is blending, stream in the olive oil.
  3. Once the oil is completely incorporated into the mixture, remove the aioli from the processor and transfer it to a bowl. Spray the saffron spray directly into the aioli before using a spoon or whisk to mix it in until you no longer see any streaks of saffron spray.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
Mon Petit Four http://monpetitfour.com/

Apple Dumplings

apple dumplings

Apple pie is always a comforting, popular dessert to serve after dinner, but it can take up to 45 minutes for a perfectly baked pie. Instead, commit to a little less hassle and a little less time, and you’ll get gorgeous apple dumplings to enjoy. These apple dumplings utilize puff pastry for the “crust,” which I personally prefer over the usual pie crust. As much as I like good pie crust, I find it a bit dense. I love the lightness and flakiness of puff pastry. I made my own pastry dough, but making this recipe would be even more simple and quicker with store-bought puff pastry. 

apple dumplings

apple dumplings

For the filling, I used tart Granny Smith apples that were “marinated” in a blend of citrus, sugar, and warm spices. These beauties bake for about 17 minutes until they’re golden and done. They pair well with whipped cream, ice cream, or a drizzle of maple icing. See the recipe below to see just how you can make these at home. 

apple dumplings

 

Apple Dumplings
Yields 4
A sweet and tart apple filling, enveloped in buttery and flaky puff pastry.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
32 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
32 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  2. 2 small tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, & cut into 1/2 inch length cubes
  3. 1/2 tsp grated orange or lemon zest
  4. 1.5 tbsp orange juice
  5. 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  6. 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  7. 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  8. a dash of nutmeg (less than 1/8 tsp)
  9. tiny pinch of salt
  10. 1 egg, beaten and combined with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the apple cubes, orange/lemon zest, orange juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir until all the apples are coated in the mixture. Let them marinate in this mixture for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle your work surface with a light dusting of flour and roll out your puff pastry into an even 12 inch x 12 inch square. Use a sharp knife to cut the square into 4 equal size squares.
  3. Once your apples have marinated, place a spoonful or 2 of apple cubes (trying not to scoop the juices) onto the center of each puff pastry square. Then brush the edges of the puff pastry squares with your egg wash. Gather the edges of each puff pastry square and bring them in toward the center so that all the edges are pinched together to form mini puff pastry sacks. Brush egg wash all over the outsides.
  4. Bake at 420 degrees for about 15 minutes, then broil at 450 for a minute or 2, just until the tops are perfectly golden. Allow dumplings to cool if using a glaze, otherwise enjoy them warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
Mon Petit Four http://monpetitfour.com/