butterscotch pudding dirt cups

It is October 8th, which, in most other years, would mean that sugar beet harvest is about halfway done. I’d be making my grocery lists and putting together recipes for the end of harvest party and waiting for Eggboy to give me the go ahead to start prepping the brisket and baking the cakes. The light at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel would be near and visions of Thanksgiving in sunny Florida would be filling up our brains. 

But this year is not like other years!

Winter came so unfashionably early, with two snowfalls already and an expected four inches of snow on Wednesday, that harvest has been at a total standstill for almost a week. It’s wild! I’ve never seen so much October Eggboy before in my life. We’ve been eating lunch together, we went to an art fest this weekend, and tonight we’re making squash soup! We’re cramming in all of the fun fall things now because as soon as the ground dries, it will be back to crazy harvest hours. At this point though, it’s really hard to tell when that will be. All of my fingers and toes are crossed that when harvest can get back up and running it will run smoothly, and that this insane weather delay hasn’t caused too much of a raucous. 

And, ok, I’m not that superstitious, but I meant to post these sugar beet butterscotch pudding dirt cups last week as a celebration of the beginning of harvest but because of my quick bop out to New York I couldn’t get to it until the weather shutdown, so I never posted my annual beginning of harvest sugar beet thing and what if I jinxed it??? What if I disrupted the tradition and that set a wave of bad luck into the air and mother nature was like screw it, we’re going in?? 

Or maybe I’m giving too much power to marzipan shaped into beets. 

This pudding is just one of the many beet-centric sweets that I made this year in celebration of harvest. Our deep freeze right now is packed with sugar beet cookies, cupcakes, blondies, and donuts, waiting to be defrosted for all of the drivers and other folks who help out this time of year. Most of these sweets were made from old standby recipes but I made this pudding as the new official 2018 harvest dessert.

Growing up, butterscotch pudding was always Stoopie’s thing, and it turns out that Eggboy is also a butterscotch person, so I’m going to attribute this to the fact that Stoopie and E-boy both have November birthdays. The November birthstone is kind of butterscotch-esque in some lights? I think I wasn’t too into butterscotch when I was little because it tends to be so cloyingly sweet and one-noted but when Eggboy suggested it with these cute little marzipan beets I couldn’t say no. 

So I brainstormed and brainstormed and somehow came across a very specific lightly caramelized flavor with a fuzzy mouthfeel that was buried deep somewhere in my memory. It occurred to me that I’d had what I wanted in a butterscotch pudding, I just needed to remember where. I sat on my couch, listing everywhere I could have eaten this thing I was thinking of, and a few more thinks later realized that I was dreaming of the pumpkin pie filling that Eggboy totally nailed last year at Thanksgiving. Up front it was creamy and milky, and it was backed up by a faint yet complex caramel flavor. It was very lightly spiced because he couldn’t find most of the spices in my mom’s house and he used Sarah’s recipe but made a few substitutions, namely he substituted more heavy cream for crème fraiche because he wasn’t confident enough in his pronunciation of crème fraiche to ask what it was or if we had it. I realize that pumpkin pie filling is not butterscotch pudding but there are so many similarities that I’d have been remiss not to use that as inspiration. So I tinkered with that filling and came up with this pudding. It doesn’t have pumpkin, but it does have brown sugar which gets caramelized, so that makes this butterscotch. (Did you know that?? Caramelized white sugar = caramel, caramelized brown sugar = butterscotch.) 

The rest of the ingredients, mainly the spices and the maple syrup, contribute to making this one helluva a butterscotch pudding. Does it need the cookie dirt and marzipan sugar beets buried within? No. But it needs a topping, something crunchy like a cookie or pie crust crumble would work, or a dollop of fresh whip, and perhaps a sprinkle of flaky salt. Oooooh yeah. Consider me a butterscotch pudding convert. 


butterscotch pudding dirt cups

serves 8

ingredients

1/4 c (56g) unsalted butter

½ c (100g) brown sugar

¼ c (50g) granulated sugar

¼ c (78g) maple syrup

¾ tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 c (600g) heavy cream

½ c (118g) whole milk

2 tb (14g) cornstarch

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg


To decorate:

Sprinkles

Crushed chocolate cookies

Marzipan and rosemary “sugar beets”

clues

Combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a large heavy pot, stirring until it begins to bubble, and then stop stirring. Cook over medium high for 7-8 minutes, until it turns a dark amber color and begins to smoke slightly. Carefully add heavy cream and whole milk (it will get a lil wild when you pour this in) and stir gently until the caramel melts back down (it will firm up when the milk goes in). Reduce heat to medium. In a separate heat safe bowl, whisk together cornstarch, eggs, and egg yolks. When the milk/caramel mixture is steaming, add a ladle of it to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously, and then pour the egg mixture into the pudding while whisking. Whisk continuously for a few minutes, until it thickens. When it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into serving glasses, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until cool and set. 

To serve top with sprinkles, crushed chocolate cookies, and hide some marzipan beets in the cookie dirt.


apple and honey pizza + wheat harvest!

Today is the last day of wheat harvest! It was earlier than expected this year because it was such a hot and dry summer. The wheat fields are soooo pretty so I'm kind of sad they'll all be picked now but one perk of this earlier wheat harvest is that Eggboy will have some breathing time before beet harvest, some of which will be spent at summer camp!!! Since it’s been a good few years since I took a camera out to the fields, I thought it would be fun to have Chantell and Brett come out and capture the harvest, the wheat, and a fun thing to do with the wheat: mill it into flour and make pizza with it! 

Wheat harvest is less intense of a harvest than sugar beet harvest because you can only harvest the wheat when it’s very dry, meaning that you can’t really start until 11am, and then you have to stop at sundown, so there’s still time at night to sit on the couch and eat a taco and watch half an episode of Breaking Bad. (Sugar beet harvest goes 24 hours a day… no time for couch or TV.) But that doesn’t mean it’s less dramatic!! The way the fields are so golden and create big poofs of dust when the combines roll through creates the coolest scene. 

Once it’s harvested, the wheat, which is hard red spring wheat, gets brought to the mill in town where it’s ground into flour and shipped all over the country. Some of it becomes King Arthur Flour! Some goes into pancake mix. And some of it (the high protein variety) gets sent to the Bronx to make bagels!!!

And then there’s like .00000001% of it that Eggboy has brought in for me to blend in the Vitamix and play around with. I added some to challah and it came out reeeeally dense. It was bad. But that density works really well in pizza dough, so I’ve been adding it to my current favorite pizza dough, which is based on the recipe in Bread Toast Crumbs. It’s a no-knead recipe that only needs to rise for an hour and a half, so it’s the best on pizza Fridays when I forget to make dough the day before. And the nutty whole wheatiness of our home-milled flour goes splendidly with this new concoction: apple and honey pizza! With apples from our trees!!!

Apple and honey pizza is a Rosh Hashanah-ready recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a while and it works because sharp sharp cheddar, pepper-y arugula, and punchy balsamic all balance out the sweetness of the apples and honey so it definitely does still feel like a good salty savory situation. In a slightly dainty move, the crust here is really thin and crisp, so you could totally house the whole thing for supper or serve it as an appetizer flatbread thing. There’s no real sauce, just some slow cooked olive oily onions, and brie would be en excellent alternative to the sharp cheddar. Overall it strikes a perfect combo of sweet, salty, and acidic, so it's fully ready for a sweet (yet balanced!) new year!

apple and honey pizza

serves 2-4

ingredients

Dough:

1 1/3 c (173g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2/3 c (86g) whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 c (236 ml) lukewarm water

Toppings:

1/4 c (50g) olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 oz (170g) sharp cheddar, shredded
1 apple, thinly sliced
leaves of 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
Black pepper
Kosher salt
4 tsp honey
Crushed red pepper
2 handfuls of arugula
A drizzle of balsamic glaze
 

clues

In a medium bowl combine the flours, salt and yeast. Mix in the water until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours (or overnight).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat and add the onion and thyme sprigs and cook for about 45 minutes, until very very soft.

Preheat the oven (ideally with a pizza stone) to 500ºf, cut out two big sheets with parchment paper, and dust liberally with flour. Divide the dough into two parts, and place each on a piece of parchment. The dough will be very sticky, so don't be shy in dusting it with enough flour as needed to handle it. Roll out until the dough is very thin, just a little thicker than 1/4” (and again, feel free to dust dust dust with flour as you're rolling). 

Discard the thyme leaves from the onion mixture and transfer the onions and the excess olive oil to the dough, spreading it around to distribute evenly. Top with the cheese, apple slices, rosemary, and black pepper, and sprinkle the edges with salt. Using a pizza peel or baking sheet, slide the dough onto baking stone and bake until the cheese is splotchy with brown marks; begin checking for doneness at 7 minutes. If you don’t have a baking stone, you can simply bake on a baking sheet. 

Drizzle the pizzas with honey, sprinkle with crushed red pepper, top with arugula, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Enjoy! 


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

apron by enrich and endure, necklace by marian bull

citrus rose thyme loaf cake

This is a fantastic phase of summer!!! Everything in our garden is suddenly ripe or about to be, the weather is still warm but hints to us in the evenings that fall is coming, school supply commercials are on the TV (!!!!!!!), and Eggboy is in his calm before the harvest storm. July is the month that is safely nestled between the end of spring planting the beginning of fall harvest, which means that he can take full days off at a time to do things like zip down to Chicago for a quick lil visit and clean out half of his office to make room for a desk for me so that I can clear out my kitchen desk to make room for our rice cooker and microwave. Going to Chicago and making room for our rice cooker have both provided me with endless amusement and excitement.

We had just a couple of days in Chicago last week, but we packed them to the brim with fun awesome summery things: Rite of Spring at Ravinia followed by a trip down Steak n Shake nostalgia lane with Jaclyn and Katie, falafel twice from my favorite falafel place, a Cubs game (which felt a little weird since I grew up a Sox fan but the Sox were at an away game and E-boy wanted to see Wrigley Field), a stroll around the Botanic Garden that transported us to Japan and back, and a Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour which honestly freaked me out because his houses, while beautiful, look dark and haunted. I also got to sample a ton of sweets that Mia made at baking and pastry camp. Baking and pastry camp!!! Kids are so cool these days. Overall it was a successful trip but I unfortunately could not locate the Caboodles in my stash of childhood things at my mom’s house so after this I’m going to put on my helmet and dig through Ebay. I mean, name a more perfect food coloring and piping tip container.

Speaking of cake decorating supplies, here’s a cake!!!

In Paris I spotted a beautiful citrus rose loaf cake at Rose Bakery and promptly wanted to recreate it. My version is similar to the grapefruit olive oil yogurt loaf in Short Stack Yogurt but uses lemon in the batter and rosewater in the glaze, and is sprinkled with fresh thyme since the thyme in our garden is currently very happy. The texture of this cake is what I love most: it is soo dense and luxuriously moist, yet it doesn’t feel too heavy thanks to the brightness of the citrus. And this is a really versatile cake! My friend Sam used orange zest/juice in this to make a layer for her wedding cake, and while I’ve never tried it, I feel like lime would be delicious in this as well. Overall it's a very simple cake to make but between the olive oil, rosewater, and thyme, it totally tastes ~fancy~.


citrus rose thyme loaf cake

makes 1 loaf

ingredients

1 1/2 c (190g) all-purpose flour
1/2 c (56g) almond meal
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, from about 2 sprigs, plus more for decorating
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c (68g) lemon juice (from about 1-2 lemons)
3/4 c (169g) whole milk greek yogurt
3/4 c (150g) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 c (250g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Glaze
1 c (120g) powdered sugar
2-3 tb (28g-42g) whole milk greek yogurt
3/4 tsp rosewater
1/4 tsp almond extract
A pinch of kosher salt

red or pink food coloring, optional

sprinkles, for decorating, optional
 

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the parchment comes up all the way on two of the sides. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, thyme, and zest. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and yogurt until very smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking very well after each. Stir in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then use the parchment wings to lift the loaf out of the pan and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons yogurt, rosewater, almond extract, salt, and food coloring, if using. It will seem like there isn’t enough yogurt at first but keep on stirring. If the mixture is too thick to spread once it’s fully combined, add more yogurt bit by bit until it becomes spreadable but you want it fairly thick so that the drips hold their shape down the side of the cake. Spread the glaze onto the top of the cooled cake, sprinkle with thyme leaves and sprinkles and enjoy.
 


-yeh!

smoked butter shortbread with violet buttercream

Alright nerds, I have a Twelfth Night cookie for you!!

Last month, North Dakota Shakespeare put on a production of Twelfth Night in our town square and it was so great!! Eggboy and I packed the cutest ever picnic and I was brought way way back to Mrs. Meyer's junior year English class when I triumphed my way through Shakespeare, thanks to Sparknotes. You too? Ok cool. 

Just like last year’s rose cookies for Romeo and Juliet, I created this special Twelfth Night cookie to be sold the week of shows. This cookie is kind of all over the place but Twelfth Night kind of is too?! Like that play’s a lil drunk right?? But the important part is is that these cookies taste good and get you thinking about the play. So here are all of the references wrapped up into this chocolate and smoked butter and floral sandwich cookie:

Smoked butter cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves: these cookies have the same spices as the traditional English Twelfth Night Cake which was the predecessor to the King Cake. And what’s great is that the spices compliment the smoked butter element, which was a nod to this particular performance being outside during the summer, as they smelled faintly like a campfire. 

Yellow lemon buttercream: a nod to Malvolio’s yellow stockings!

Purple violet buttercream:

 “O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour.” 

Green rose buttercream: the fact that the rose buttercream is colored green and not pink is a reference to the theme of mistaken identity that’s all throughout the play. Rose is also inspired by Orsino saying something about lying on a rose covered bed.

Yellow, green, and purple buttercream: A nod to the King Cake, which grew out of the Twelfth Night Cake tradition.

Pink buttercream: it symbolizes the role of gender in the play and love, and also throws off the King Cake reference because having something as straightforward as a King Cake reference wouldn’t be in the spirit of this very wild play. It’s also pretty.

Chocolate shortbread: This represents the darkness of Malvolio’s prison. And it makes this a sandwich cookie, which represents the twins! I was also inspired by the cookies in this photo that I've had saved on my phone for forever.

…that’s it! Did I get a good grade??

My awesome friend Mollie drew a picture of it that was displayed during the shows with all of these references:

Here is the recipe for the full cookie, four kinds of frosting and everything. The chocolate shortbread, rose buttercream, lemon buttercream, and vanilla buttercream are all things you’ve seen here before, so what I’m most excited about in this recipe are the smoked butter shortbread and violet buttercream. 

Smoking butter is something I first read about in Katrin Bjork's beautiful cookbook, From the North. I always figured I’d need fancy tools to smoke stuff but when I read this recipe I realized that all I needed were wood chips and a dutch oven. What you do is you heat up some wood chips and then place a bowl of butter on top of them (propped up by some balls of aluminum… if you look in the photo below you can spot them). I found that heating it for about an hour gave it a smoky enough flavor to hold up in baking the cookies, but if you're just smoking butter to serve with bread or radishes, you can smoke it for less time. The process makes the house smell like a campfire which is never a bad thing. The options for what to do with smoked butter are endless and range from spreading it on toast to making a cake with it (how wild would smoked sprinkle cake be?!). It adds a smoky flavor that’s much more subtle than liquid smoke. These shortbread cookies are fairly simple and have some warm spices tossed in that amp up the smoky flavor.

Violet buttercream is a display of my new loyalty to melodramatic purple as the new millennial pink. I ordered violet syrup from Amazon and it smells like a snow cone! Not a specific flavor of snow cone, just general snow cone. Or like, how the blue sparkly snow cone flavored lip gloss that I owned in the 90s smelled. A few splashes of the syrup in a basic buttercream give it a light floral/candy like flavor, and then I added some purple food coloring because the color of the syrup isn’t that concentrated. 

Twelfth Night Cookies

Makes 12

Ingredients

Smoked Butter Shortbread: 

1 c + 2 tb (146g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of cloves
1/2 c (113g) smoked butter, at room temperature (recipe below)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Chocolate Shortbread:

3/4 c + 2 tb (113g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
6 tb (30g) dutch cocoa powder
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Violet Buttercream:

3/4 c (168g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2c (240g) powdered sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
1 tb heavy cream
2 tb violet syrup
A squeeze of lemon juice
Purple food coloring
 

Clues

To make the smoked butter shortbread, combine the all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until crumbly. Sprinkle in the vanilla and continue to stir, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula occasionally. Increase the speed and continue to mix until the clumps start to get bigger and the dough starts to come together. Scrape the dough onto a surface and bring it together with your hands into a big ball. Pat it out into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out until it’s 1/4” thick, dusting with additional flour if it’s sticky. Cut out 2 1/2” circles and transfer to the baking sheets, an inch apart. If desired, cut out smaller circles within the big circles using a round piping tip. Bake until lightly browned around the edges; begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes un the pans and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 


To make the chocolate shortbread, repeat the same steps as the smoked butter shortbread.

To make the buttercream, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add the heavy cream, violet syrup, lemon juice, and food coloring and beat to combine. Taste and adjust as desired. Alternatively, to make the four buttercream flavors pictured: don’t add the violet syrup or food coloring. Divide into four and mix in 1/2 tb violet syrup to one part, 1/4 tsp rosewater to another, 1/4 tso vanilla extract to another, and a pinch of lemon zest to the last. Add food coloring as desired.

To assemble, pipe the buttercream between two cookies and smoosh. Enjoy! 

These can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days!
 


Smoked butter

Makes about 1/2 cup

 

Ingredients

About 2 c Hickory wood chips (other wood chips work too)
10 tb (131g) unsalted butter

Clues

Cover the bottom of a big dutch oven with wood chips. Ball up three big pieces of aluminum foil to make three golfball-sized balls. Place them on top of the chips; they’ll be used to prop up the bowl of butter. Cover the dutch oven and heat over medium high for 10 minutes. Place the butter in a heat safe bowl and place the bowl on top of the aluminum balls. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot, allowing a small opening to vent. Cook for 1 hour. Let the butter cool and allow it to come back to around 65-70ºf. You can let it sit at room temperature overnight or stick it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spreadable and opaque.