Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Parfait with Brown Sugar Crumble and Bourbon Cream

Hard to believe, but it's already time for the November Improv cooking challenge. Sheryl at The Lady Behind The Curtain is no longer able to organize this group so Kristen at Frugal Antic of a Harried Homemaker has taken over hosting the challenge. The November ingredients were cream cheese and pumpkin. We choose to make a parfait using pumpkin pie as our inspiration. It has the same flavors as pie, but is super easy to make and there is no pie crust to roll out. A light and creamy pumpkin cream cheese filling is layered with a brown sugar crumble and topped with a bourbon spiked whipped cream. We layered it in small individual serving dishes, starting with some crumble on the bottom of the dish followed by a layer of pumpkin filling, then a spoonful of bourbon cream on top, and more brown sugar crumble sprinkled over the whipped cream. We liked that this dessert was a new twist on a classic, but still had the familiar flavors that everyone expects at a Thanksgiving dinner. 

We used both individual small dishes and mini two-bite sized serving dishes but you could easily make it as one big dessert in a pie dish or a small trifle dish. The individual parts can all be made several days ahead, but save assembly for the day before serving so the crumble stays crunchy.

Pumpkin Parfait with Brown Sugar Crumble and Bourbon Whipped Cream

Brown Sugar crumble
1/2 cup flour
 3  tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients. Add melted butter and stir with a fork or your fingers until well mixed.
Crumble mixture on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes total. After the initial 8 minutes stir the mixture to break up clumps and continue baking until golden brown. Remove from oven and stir to break up any big clumps. Let cool.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

8 oz cream cheese
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup whipping cream

Whip cream with 2  tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside Whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining sugar, pumpkin, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Beat with paddle for about five minutes, scraping down the side as needed, until light and fluffy. Fold in the whipped cream.

Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons bourbon or brandy (or omit and add 1 teaspoon vanilla)

In a chilled bowl beat the cream, sugar and flavoring until semi firm peaks form.

In the bottom of your serving dish(s) sprinkle a layer of brown sugar crumble, follow with a layer of pumpkin filling, and top with whipped cream and sprinkle the top with crumble. You can also make several thinner layers alternating the crumble and filling if you would like. Chill until serving time.

printable recipe

Link: Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bourbon Balls and Cookbook Review

When I was a child, Bourbon Balls were the Adults Only dessert craze. We children were not allowed to eat them.  My mom would make them just after Thanksgiving and let them age until Christmas. When I did finally taste one, the alcohol flavor was so strong that I spit out my first bite and haven't given them much thought since. When I received the Little Old Lady Recipes-Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom cookbook to review, I found the recipe for bourbon balls, so I thought this was my opportunity to give them another chance.

The recipe is slightly different that my mom's. It uses honey instead of Karo syrup for the sweetener and I think this is a delicious change. Also, I didn't add the full 1/4 cup of bourbon. I just used enough to make a moist dough and used bourbon that had had a vanilla bean soaking in it. Our balls turned out to be a little drier than the ones Mr. Mimi remembered, but he still liked the flavor and ate several for the sake of an accurate review.  If you like a softer cookie, use the entire amount of bourbon.

Little Old Lady Recipes, written by Meg Faverau and published by Quirk Books (, available at, is full of comfort food recipes, along with photos and kitchen wisdom of the ladies who contributed recipes to the book. There are plenty of comfort food recipes, including Irish soda bread, chicken and dumplings, meat loaf, fried chicken and rhubarb pie. The recipes are written just as if your grandmother scribbled it on a recipe card, direct and to the point, often assuming that you have some kitchen knowledge (or have watched her make the recipe hundreds of times). Sprinkled in among the recipes are tips from the cooks, ladies with lots of life experience and even more advice. One of our favorites was "There isn't much a good cake won't fix". You can't go wrong with a motto like that! 

Bourbon Balls
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup Bourbon
additional powdered sugar for rolling.

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and then add honey and bourbon; stir. Form into balls with your hands and roll in powdered sugar. Refrigerate before serving. Makes approximately 48 balls. (I got closer to 36 balls)

links: Foodie Fridays at Designs by Gollum

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Bread

Traditions abound here at Mimi's Kitchen throughout the year, but some of our favorites come during the fall holidays, and this beautiful braided bread is one of them. Years ago I went to a bread baking class just for fun at a local adult school and the teacher gave us her Thanksgiving bread recipe. It's a lovely golden color, which it gets from either winter squash or pumpkin. The pumpkin/squash keeps it moist, but doesn't impart too much flavor. What I like about the recipe is that it makes one very large loaf for a crowd, or you can make 2 smaller loaves, which would be perfect for sharing with friends or neighbors for their Thanksgiving table.
If you have leftovers this makes excellent french toast, turkey sandwiches or even bread pudding. It is a perfect way to infuse some fall flavor and color into your meal throughout the season.
Squash Bread
makes 2 loaves

2 tablespoons yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup pumpkin or orange squash puree
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup soft butter
1 egg
5 1/2 cups flour

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add a pinch of sugar and let stand until bubbly.
2. Combine pumpkin, milk, sugar, butter, egg and salt in a large bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and stir to incorporate.You can use your stand mixer for this.
3. Add add 4 3/4 cup flour and stir to make a smooth dough.
4.  Turn dough on a lightly floured surface and knead(about 10 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes in mixer with a dough hook), adding remaining flour as necessary to create a dough that is smooth and silky. Dough should not be tacky. 

 5. Place dough in a greased bowl (I spray them with PAM) cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size about 1  1/2 hours.

6. Punch dough down and shape.

If making two loaves divide the dough in half. Each half is then divided into thirds. Shape each third into a 14 inch rope.  On a baking sheet lined with a silpat braid your 3 ropes into one loaf (I cross them in the center of the ropes and braid to the ends)
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden (about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your loaf.
When bread comes out of the oven and is still warm, brush the crust with soft butter. 
Cool completely on a wire rack.
printable recipe

links: Foodie Fridays at Designs by Gollum