Butterscotch Pot de Crème (and Pumpkin Version for Fall)

Butterscotch Pot de Crème | Photo by Zoë François

I developed this butterscotch pot de crème recipe for Tilia‘s dessert menu. Steven Brown, the chef/owner wanted a turbo charged version of the butterscotch pudding from his childhood. We went with a Pot de crème, which is essentially as decadent as creme brulee, without the crack of caramel resting on top. The texture is like silk and the taste is lightly sweet, with just a slight bitter edge from the burnt sugar in the butterscotch. Cooking the butter and brown sugar together until it is smokin’ hot (and I do mean smoking) is the key to the flavor. If you don’t bring them to the brink of burning the pudding will be way too sweet for my taste. The crème fraîche (young sour cream) is unsweetened and the perfect balance for the pudding. If you don’t happen to live near Linden Hills (a small village of a neighborhood in Minneapolis), where you can order this at Tilia, you can now make it at home.

You can watch me make this Buttercotch Pot de Crème on my instagram stories.
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Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Pie | ZoeBakes

Here is a twofer for those of us who love both apple and pumpkin pies. Both great flavors layered together in a flaky, rich crust. I used apples that kept their shape when I caramelized them, so they would add a bit of texture to the pie. Go with Granny Smith and Braeburn or a local apple that you know stays firm when cooked. These days all grocery stores have sugar pumpkins stacked up in the produce aisle, so you can roast your own. It is seriously easy and the taste is heavenly. Having said that, you can also use your favorite canned pumpkin puree.

I am about to give up some of my chef cred with this next statement, but I did a blind taste test of canned pumpkin and I was very surprised by my taste buds. Out of 5 different brands, the hands down winner was Libby’s. They are not paying me to say that, nor did they send me any product. Not only did Libby’s have the sweetest, most “pumpkin” tasting canned pumpkin, but when I looked at them all side by side, it was the most gorgeous color. It claims not to have any color added, in fact, it’s just 100% pumpkin, just like the organic versions. I won’t mention the other brands to avoid, but some were dull, yellow, tasted more like water and had a grainy texture, not good.  (more…)

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The Salty Tart Pie Party

Pie Pop Up | ZoeBakes 22

My friend and rock star pastry chef, Michelle Gayer (The Salty Tart), is hosting pie pop-ups in Minneapolis for the whole month of November. To get one (or 3) of her pies, you need to show up at Hola Arepa on Monday afternoons from 3-7pm. Those are the official hours, but she’s been selling out in about an hour, so line up early if you want a pie. (Unfortunately, Hola Arepa is closed on Mondays, so you’ll have to go back the next day to sample their incredible menu and mighty fine cocktails.) Michelle came over to bake some pies with me so I could give you an idea of what she’s up to, but don’t go expecting to see these two on the menu, you just never know what mood she’ll be in and the pie selection will change to match her passing culinary fancy. To get more details you can follow Michelle’s pie Instagram feed.

Pie Pop Up | ZoeBakes 24

I have a lot to celebrate these days, in addition to these gorgeous pies (Michelle left them for me to devour). My latest book Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five came out a few weeks ago and I’ve been on book tour, I also just wrapped up a Craftsy video (the subject is very hush, hush, but I bet you can guess) and yesterday was my Birthday. To celebrate all of that I’ve paired up with my friends at Emile Henry to GIVE AWAY 5 gorgeous PIE PLATES for you. Just leave me a note about your favorite pie and you’ll be entered to win. Sorry, but it is only open to those in the USA.

Here are some more pictures of my afternoon of pie baking with Michelle. Got to love the blow torch and sugar dusting!  (more…)

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Pumpkin Cake – For Halloween or Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Cake | ZoeBakes

Pumpkin season is here, which is the only reason I can send this short summer off with a smile. It is natures way of creating balance. We give up the sunny days, and get bright orange pumpkins to cheer us up. Much like zucchini, there is an endless bounty to be made from these winter gourds. Here is a spiced pumpkin cake that is absolutely delicious and needs no adornments to be appreciated. But, decorate it like a pumpkin and it becomes a centerpiece for any fall holiday table. The recipe makes two pumpkin cakes, so you can have one for home and bring one to a party.

Pumpkin Cake | ZoeBakes (more…)

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Pumpkin Cheesecake with Almond Crunch and Amaretto Cream

pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin is an ingredient I get obsessed with every year at this time. Its bright orange shell is such a relief, during a season when color is fading away and the grey of winter is settling in. In fact, I am determined to paint a room the color of roasted pumpkin this year. But, my love of pumpkin goes beyond its mood lifting color, I adore its luscious texture, its ability to marry with both sweets and savory, and its earthy sweetness. I’ve heard there are folks that don’t share my enthusiasm for this gorgeously colored gourd, but I’ll eat roasted pumpkin with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. It is even more wonderful in desserts; pumpkin creme brulee, classic pie, breads and cheesecake. When it is pureed smooth, it has a custard like texture, so it lends itself beautifully to this silky cheesecake. For a contrast to the velvety cheesecake, I’ve added candied almond crunch and a dollop of Amaretto whipped cream. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Desserts

thanksgiving_desserts

I have so much to be thankful for this year. From the health and well being of my family, to the fact that my computer is back up and running. Sometimes it is the small stuff that really snaps us into a space of giving thanks. As those of you who follow me on Twitter and FB know, last week was my birthday and it was quite a memorable one. My adorable boys brought me coffee in bed and we sat and talked. The fact that they sat still long enough to hang out was remarkable and a gift. After that loving moment passed, they were off and running and I changed the course of my day with a single move. I jostled my coffee cup and spilled the tiniest bit on my laptop. I swear it was no more than a tablespoon, but that is enough to ruin your day, week. My husband took the lifeless piece of equipment to the genius bar at the Mac store, as I salvaged the rest of my birthday by taking a photography class with Susan Powers. Nothing like creative inspiration to lift your spirits. Not only were the geniuses able to fix the computer, but I didn’t lose anything. Small miracle. The price I paid was being without a computer for nearly a week, which in the end was like a forced vacation. After being on book tour, it was a much needed, albeit unasked for, rest. So, yes, I am actually thankful that my computer was down for the week, although next time I will just turn it off.

Some of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts from past years:

Here is a post I did on the difference between a Sweet Potato vs Yam? Turns out there is quite a debate.

Perfect Apple Pie

Bourbon Pumpkin cheesecake

Caramelized Pumpkin Bread pudding

Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie

Apple Pumpkin Cake

Coconut Cream Cake

Caramel Apple Pear Cake

I hope your holiday is filled with joy and you manage to keep your motherboard dry. Happy Thanksgiving!

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