Pear Almond Tart

pear tart (2 of 5)

I think tarts are an under appreciated art form. The sweet, tender crust is the perfect frame for just about any filling. This one has poached pears laying in a bed of almond cream and surrounded by toasted almonds. The flavor combination is classically French and looks sophisticated enough to be served at any special occasion. But, it’s really quite simple to create and there’s no reason not to have it on a Tuesday or for breakfast or as an after school snack.  (more…)

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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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Poached Pear Ginger Cake

Pear Ginger Cake| ZoeBakes (1 of 6)

This is the quintessential fall cake.

Poached pears were the symbol of a sophisticated dessert when I was a kid. Not that we ever had them, but I saw them standing tall on the pages of Gourmet magazine and always thought how magical it would be to eat something so beautiful. They’re just so elegant and complex and generally boozed up with wine.  I poached these in a chai tea cider mixture and they are just as satisfying without the buzz. The cake is spicy with a kick of freshly grated ginger and tons of warm spice from cloves and cinnamon. It’s by no means an overly sweet cake, which is how I like them. The molasses gives it color and that edge of bitter that I love. I’ve made it using more molasses and I love it, but I mellowed it down by adding some brown sugar to the mix. I think this is a perfect Thanksgiving dessert!

Pear Ginger Cake| ZoeBakes (6 of 6) (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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