Winter Weekend Baking Recipe: Apple Cranberry Fig Crisp

fruit crisp

We’re deep in the heart of winter — the end of January heading into February. As part of my practice of leaning into each season, I’m contemplating the feeling of winter. This past weekend brought bursts of big puffy snowflakes, rising and falling with the wind. It was very enjoyable watching from the inside, wrapped in a blanket on my couch, cozy sipping a hot drink with thoughts of a fruit crisp.

For me, wanting to bake is a natural result of this cozy winter feeling. Baking for just myself, instead of others, always feels a bit decadent. Over the years, the fruit crisp has started to grow on me. Before, I barely considered it a dessert, but things have changed. This recipe is adapted from the “Cran-Apple Crisps” in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Baking: From My home to Yours.”

The exact circumstances of my particular take on this recipe are mostly on purpose and partly a series of happy accidents. I only had two (way past their prime) apples, so I made half the amount called for in the original recipe. The measurements are estimates. I kept the skin on since it’s quicker and healthier.

I bought almond paste a while ago and had never used it. For some reason, something said just squeeze a whole bunch onto the filling. I didn’t have enough cranberries, so I needed to add another fruit. Raisins were suggested, but something said to use figlets, which are sweeter than raisins. They had been around for a while as well without being used. I added salt and vanilla extract to the filling, because why not? They make everything taste better. I served this crisp warm with whipped cream and it is over the top delicious!

I’m always shocked when people say that they have fruit for dessert – like an orange or strawberries. My mom is one of them. Fruit is not dessert! We will never agree on this. However, this fruit crisp is one mighty fine dessert and maybe breakfast too.

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Apple Cranberry Fig Crisp

(3-4 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Topping:

1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 stick butter (cold, cut into pieces)

Filling:

2 apples (cut into pieces)
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1/4 cup figlets
1/3 cup sugar
2 T almond paste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T flour

INSTRUCTIONS

Butter a medium sized baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Put all the topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse for about a minute until the texture is big formed pieces.

Spread the filling in the prepared baking dish. Place the the topping pieces onto the filling. Bake for about 45 minutes. After baking, let sit for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream and enjoy!

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

My quarantine baking is in full swing. I’ve also found a keeper of a chocolate chip cookie recipe. How can I express the enormity of this?

I’ve been baking since I was a little kid. My mom baked from scratch. She baked a lot. Growing up we literally had dessert every night after dinner.

I was always by her side “helping” or at the very least just licking the spoon and bowl clean. I learned so much watching her over those years. One of the things that she baked most often was chocolate chip cookies. There was nothing like getting a spoonful of raw cookie dough to tide me over until the cookies were baked. It’s still a treat that brings me back. Eventually I was able to make them myself.

Over the years, I’ve probably baked dozens of variations of chocolate chip cookie recipes. The recipes don’t  vary much. For the most part there are no surprises. At least until I saw the recipe for the DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe.

It’s a game changer. I’ve never had their cookies before and now I know why they’re so beloved. This is the most substantial chocolate chip cookie that I have ever baked by far. It’s delicious, gooey, solid and filling.

As an aside, because of pandemic panic buying, I hadn’t seen all-purpose flour on store shelves in weeks, so I bought cake flour and used that. I guess I need to make this recipe with regular flour as well to see if there is a difference.

Anyway, the ingredients in this recipes are different. Along with the standard ones, there is cinnamon, lemon juice, walnuts and oats. Also there’s double the normal amount of chocolate chips. But an even bigger difference is the manner of baking. Most recipes bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. These cookies bake at 300 degrees for 20-23 minutes. That’s revolutionary!

I cut this cookie recipe in half and didn’t add the lemon juice, because it was such a small amount. I might try using it the next time. And there will be a next time. I think this is my new standard chocolate chip recipe.

Here is my adapted version of the recipe below. The original version is supposed to make 26 cookies. Maybe I made smaller cookies than called for, but I baked six yesterday and still have plenty of cookie dough left in the fridge. I guess the amount you get will be based on how much dough you use for each cookie.

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DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup and 2 T flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch cinnamon
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put oven on 300 degrees. Take out cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough onto the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Keep them socially distanced! Bake for 20-23 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Enjoy!

Leap Year Birthday? Get Free Kane’s Donuts!

Leap Year Birthday Donut

By now, most people have realized that this is a leap year. Especially those who have that once every four years birthday on February 29th. An early Happy Leap Year Birthday to you!

If leap day is your birthday, then you could get a free half dozen of Kane’s Birthday Donuts. Yeast donuts with buttercream and sprinkles. Yum!

Show up at any of Kane’s Donuts three locations (Boston and Saugus) next Saturday, February 29th, and bring a license or birth certificate to prove your leap year birthday.

Now how many leaplings are there exactly? Kane’s donuts often sell out quickly. And these are free. Will you need to arrive early and stand in line?

Well, as of 2019 there were around 205,000 people in the United States with this birthday. And none have been added since then. A bunch more will be born on Saturday. But you most likely won’t be standing in line competing for donuts with newborns. But who knows? Maybe their parents will want the donuts to celebrate!

Since 205,000 is the whole country, if you divide by 50 for each state, that would be about 4,100 people in each state. So actually, if you really want your donuts, that’s still a few thousand people to compete with. I’d get there early if I were you!

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Image Credit: Kane’s Donuts Twitter

Holiday Dessert Roundup: Mincemeat Pie

Mince pie cut in half with background blur.
Photo Credit: By Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

From my last few posts, it’s clear that I love holiday sweets. Gingerbread is a holiday staple and eggnog might be my favorite holiday treat. But there’s another one that I haven’t written about — mincemeat pie.

First, let me clarify. Most mincemeat pies do NOT have meat in them. They are made with dried fruits and spices. While we call them mincemeat in New England, apparently in most other places, they’re called mince.

Personally, I’ve never made a mincemeat pie. One of my mom’s sisters, is the pie maker for our holiday meals and we are often blessed with one of her mincemeat pies. After a brief Twitter exchange with someone, I realized that not all families are so blessed! We had one for Thanksgiving and I’m hopeful for Christmas too! Served warm with vanilla ice cream, it’s a carousel of delicious flavors and textures.

I started wondering if enjoying mincemeat pies is more of a regional thing. The pie does have its roots in England. Growing up in New England may have skewed my views. Although for a period of time, Connecticut banned mincemeat pies. Those Puritans were no joke.

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Mincemeat pie is a holiday treat that has been enjoyed by many for a very long time, according to a recent article on Haiwatha World.

Mincemeat pie finds its roots in the 11th century — the Crusades, to be more precise. Returning crusaders brought back valuable spices — cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — from the Holy Land, and these three spices were used to season a special “Christmas pie,” to represent the three gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus Christ. Christmas pies were small, and could be eaten in a few bites. These pies were made in an oblong shape to resemble a cradle, and space was left for a Christ child figure to be placed on top. (The figure was removed before eating.) It was considered to be lucky to eat one Christmas pie for each of the twelve days of Christmas, between December 25 and Epiphany, January 6. The mincemeat filling of these pies was indeed almost entirely meat, but cooked with rum and spices, which acted as a preservative, as well as giving it its distinctive flavor.

With my increasing interest in all things mincemeat pie, I decided to do some additional research on the latest news and have assembled a roundup for your (and my) holiday reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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– Here’s a recipe for a boozy Baileys mince pie.

– Selfridges was selling a mini mince pie advent calendar.

Mince pie filled cookies are a thing!

– A mince pie sandwich is also a thing.

– Is mince pie flavored popcorn going too far?!

– Caffè Nero is offering mince pies in the UK for the Christmas season, but not in the US.  Not even in New England.

– Here’s a recipe for mincemeat crumble cake.

– The Helen M. Kelly Memorial Mince Pie has been in this family’s fridge since 1988.

Mince pie bao buns are for sale on Amazon Fresh UK.

– Parenthood won the best Thanksgiving TV dinner and the mincemeat pie had a lot to do with it.

– Grocery story Lidl has mince pie ice cream!

– A Dublin restaurant took the meat part of mincemeat too literally for Professor Darryl Jones.

– An American website had a similar meat problem with its mincemeat pie recipe.

– Try Queen Elizabeth’s royal recipe for mince pie. No meat included!

– If you’re ready to go absolutely medieval, try this mincemeat pie recipe that includes pork shoulder roast and bacon.

– And guess who has never tried mincemeat pie? I apologize in advance.

Holiday Recipe: Eggnog Ice Cream

Is there one thing that is the epitome of the holidays for you? When I was a kid, that first eggnog of the season, right before Thanksgiving was it. The holiday season was here for real!

Now eggnog is here much sooner, but for me, it’s still a clear signal that the holidays are upon us. As much as I love eggnog, I never made it from scratch until yesterday, when I made this eggnog ice cream for the first time.

While I do enjoy eating raw cookie dough as I bake, I must admit that the multiple raw egg yolks freaked me out a bit. But I got over it. Especially since I added alcohol, which feels like it cleans it up a bit. Maybe?!?

Anyway, as long as you have an ice cream maker, this recipe is pretty simple. The recipe is adapted from an Alton Brown one that I found on NPR back in December 2006. Way back at the beginning of the century! And now, we’re zooming into 2020 in a mere two weeks! But eggnog is timeless.

This recipe was adapted based on what I have at home and my personal taste. I had some half and half that I needed to use up and I happen to have vanilla oat milk. I don’t have bourbon, but I do have vanilla flavored vodka, so that’s what I used. I also added some additional flavor extracts and a bit of salt, because the mixture tasted somewhat bland. The final result is delicious!

I hope you try this recipe and adapt based on what you have at home as well. Happy Holidays!

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Eggnog Ice Cream  (makes 1 quart)

INGREDIENTS:
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2  1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup vanilla oat milk
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup Pinnacle®️ Whipped®️ Vodka

INSTRUCTIONS:
You can use the directions in the original recipe or the way I have done below.

Beat the egg yolks well in a large bowl. Use what you have — a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer (what I used) or a manual hand mixer. Add in the sugar and beat well. Add the remaining ingredients and use a whisk to combine. Chill mixture in the freezer for about 40 minutes. Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and use as directed. Place ice cream in an airtight container and put in freezer for several hours.