Maple Pumpkin Tart

Life. Is. Stressful. Between SAT studying, which is October 6th, being an editor for yearbook with deadlines looming ahead, and a paper due for my college english class, life is busy this weekend. So of course I have to take time and wind down. So I bake! And y’all get to see the results and make it for yourself!

Maple Pumpkin Tart with Shortbread Crust
Source: Hannaford Fresh Magazine

servings: serves 8
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 75 minutes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoon dark brown sugar, plus 1/4 cup
2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 each large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
15 oz canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)


The requisite holiday pumpkin pie takes on a sophisticated look in the form of a tart. Make sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Tart may be frozen, tightly covered, then thawed in the refrigerator prior to serving.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan or a 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

2. Prepare crust. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla on medium speed until blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt and add to bowl. Mix on low speed just until dough forms crumbs and flour is blended, about 15 seconds.

3. Transfer crumbs to prepared pan. With clean dry hands, press dough smoothly and evenly onto bottom and sides of pan. Using a fork, prick top of dough lightly. Bake crust 15 to 18 minutes, until firm and lightly colored; edges should not begin to brown. Let crust cool for 20 minutes before filling. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

4. Make filling. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, brown sugar and maple syrup, until smooth. Add cream, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt, whisking just to incorporate. Use a whisk to blend pumpkin in thoroughly. Pour into partially baked crust.

5. Bake tart until filling is just set in center and edges are firm, about 52 to 57 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely, about 2 hours. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours up to overnight. To serve, carefully slide a small knife around edges of crust to loosen it. Serve chilled or at room temperature, topping each slice with a drizzle of maple syrup and a spoonful of whipped cream, if desired.

Cinnamon Buns

Mmmmm…cinnamon buns. They are heaven on earth. The best cinnamon roll ever. I shall never buy canned cinnamon rolls at the grocery store again. They wanted to speak for themselves today. 🙂

Cinnamon Buns
Recipe adapted from: Balancing Beauty and Bedlam



1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
(2) .25 oz. pks. active dry yeast (I use 2 TB instant yeast)
1 tsp. granulated sugar (only if needing to proof the active dry yeast. If using instant yeast, disregard this)
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup melted butter OR margarine
1 cup 110 degree water (approximately)
1 cup warm milk (must be warm)
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs – slightly beaten
Approximately 5 cups all-purpose flour, sifted plus more for kneading/floured surface.


1/2 cup melted butter OR margarine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I don’t like a lot of nuts in dessert so feel free to add more.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or brown sugar – your preference)

Mix together 1 sugar and the cinnamon; set aside (this will be used later to spread on dough)
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water; set aside (if using instant yeast, you can skip this step)
In a large bowl, mix together milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup melted butter, salt, and eggs; add yeast mixture and 4 cups of flour to mixture; beat until smooth; stir in enough flour to form a slightly stiff dough.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. I always know when my dough is finished kneading (either by hand or machine) when it can stretch quite well. It must be elastic enough.
Place dough into a large greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough and let rest for 5 minutes.
Roll dough out onto a floured surface into a 15″ X 20″ rectangle.
Brush 1/2 cup melted butter over dough; sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over dough; sprinkle nuts evenly over dough, if desired.
Tightly roll up dough and pinch edges together to seal; cut the roll into 12 – 15 slices using dental floss or thread.
Coat the bottom of a 13″ X 9″ X 2″ baking pan with 1/2 cup melted butter; sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar evenly in the bottom of the pan. (When attempting to make these a little bit of a lower fat version, I do not do this. If I do, then make sure after they are done baking, that you flip the pan over so that all the delicious drippings go onto the rolls.) Typically, I prefer more “doughy” rolls and like them as HUGE cinnabon sized rolls, but some have mentioned that they prefer an additional 8×8 pan for the extra dough.
Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the prepared pan; cover pan and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or just eye ball them until nearly doubled in size.
Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) (plus additional rise time)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12 huge Cinnabon size or divide into two pans for regular sized rolls

Ingredients for dough:

Kneading the dough:

Dough before it rises:

It will be about twice the size after 1 hour.

Dough being filled with sugar/cinnamon mixture, butter, and walnuts 🙂

Before going into the oven…

Mmmmm…. I figured you wanted to see it again 🙂

Now it’s your turn to go make them! You’ll be happy you did!

American Cancer Society: Cupcake Competition

Yay!!!! I won my first cupcake competition!

The Judging Room

My pecan pie cupcakes in the judging room.

A youth contestant named Jacob Eagle made these “spaghetti and meatball cupcakes”. He entered the “Special Occasion” category.

Yummy Shrimp and Grits cupcakes made by an Amateur Contestant

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes made by Whole Foods

Vanilla Roasted Peaches

I am going to admit right now that I am not very proud of this dish. But I felt I had to put it up because it is one of my first desserts of many to come. It tasted phenomenal but I am not happy with the plating, the lighting and the angle of the picture. But I will say that this is my first venture into making desserts other than cupcakes, so I will give myself that much. I will definitely be venturing into making more desserts and pastries because I have chosen to and already applied for a baking and pastry degree at Johnson and Wales. I guess I have a lot to learn about the plating of desserts. The lighting is not so much my fault but Mother Nature’s. We got a heavy rainstorm today so it was dark and cloudy.

On a good note, as I said earlier these roasted peaches were absolutely amazing! I had two of them. 🙂 I will definitely be making these again. So when I do, I will post a hopefully improved picture of this dish. On another note, what would you rather see for my next post, meringues or french macarons? Leave a comment below with your choice.

The Danielle Fund: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my official first order for the Danielle Fund. As many of you know, I’m raising money for my friend’s sister who was diagnosed with neurocytoma. I’ve been taking cupcake orders to raise money and I’m going to the bank this week to set up an account for the online fund for those who would like to make a money donation. Thank you to all who support my friend’s cause.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield 12
Edited recipe from: Martha Stewart

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and eggs. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and coconut. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Frost cupcakes, and garnish with chopped walnuts.

Chocolate Drizzled Crepes

I got up early this morning; early meaning 8:30, to find out that I didn’t have to work today. So instead of going back to sleep, like my usual self would in the summertime, I got up and made my family some crepes. Let’s just say my skills were a bit rusty. It took me about a good six crepes being thrown away before I ended up with six good ones.

I had to complete this post for a fellow blogger of mine, Ilan, who asked me to make crepes about two months ago. It took me awhile to get around to it with exams and cupcake orders in my way. I finally got around to it Ilan, here’s my recipe:

Chocolate Drizzled Crepes
Serves 4-5

2/3 cup all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 egg

2 tbsp superfine sugar

1 1/2 cup milk

scant 2 tbsp unsalted butter

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

chocolate syrup for drizzling

strawberries (optional) for garnish

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Beat the egg, sugar and half the milk together in a separate bowl, then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat the dry ingredients into the liquid, gradually drawing them in from the side, until a batter is formed. Gradually beat in remaining milk. Pour batter into a pitcher.

Heat a 7 inch/ 18 cm nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon butter. When the butter has melted, pour in enough batter to coat bottom of skillet. Swirl it around while tilting it so that you have a thin, even layer. Cook for 30 seconds and lift up the edge of the crepe to check if it is cooked. Loosen crepe with a spatula all the way around and create a P with your arm. By this I mean, go in straight and quickly lift up and come back down. Cook on the other side until golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with strawberries.

A Humbling Cupcake Kind of Day

Photo Credit: Gina Anton
Everyone remembers Pac Man right? You played it on Nintendo as a kid and tried to eat the little cherries and dots. But you always tried to stay away from the ghosts. Well I got an order about a week ago for a Pac Man cupcake cake. I was immediately excited, planning out all I would do to create this classic game into a cupcake cake.

Last night I began baking my mocha cupcakes, as it was a large order, and everything was turning out beautifully. An immediate difference to last week’s order. The cupcakes were super moist and fluffy, just perfect. I was so happy because everything was turning out as planned.

I got up this morning and finished baking the rest of the cupcakes and made my mocha buttercream. Once again, everything was fantastic. I piped my buttercream carefully onto each cupcake making sure they looked flawless. I carefully shaped the fondant to each piece in the Pac Man game and placed them on the cupcakes. At about this time, I had been working on the cupcakes for three hours. Probably the longest any cupcake order has ever taken, but it had gone smoothly and I was proud of what I had made. I arranged the cupcakes to look like the game and carefully arranged half of them in one of the boxes. I pick up the box and you can only imagine what happens next…you know, the box caves in and all the cupcakes collide into each other.

I break out into hysterical sobs. I know, quite childish, but three hours of decorating just made it’s way down the drain.

My mom, as always comes to the rescue, (luckily I had tons of extra buttercream & fondant) immediately helping scrape the buttercream and fondant off as I redo them. With our teamwork, we were able to get the cupcakes done in time for their pickup. Thanks Mom, you always seem to be there when I need you the most.

Angel Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Glaze

Things don’t always turn out as we hope, that’s just life. There is a event I am going tomorrow to showcase my famous french toast cupcakes. Originally the plan was to go with my friend Mary who is also my cupcake business partner and my culinary arts teacher. Everything was set in stone, or so I had thought. Monday came along, and Mary found out she had an AP exam and couldn’t go to the event. Today, Chef fell on the floor and was rushed to the emergency room. He was afraid he had sprained his miniscus; two years earlier he had surgery to fix it. So that left me by myself with 216 cupcakes to serve. Luckily he went to the hospital and they think he will be ok enough to attend the event. So what does this story have to do with Angel Food Cupcakes? Well, alot really. My cupcakes didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, but this experience gave me the chance to learn. I didn’t have any cake flour on hand, so I used the cake flour substitute: all-purpose and cornstarch. This left my cupcakes small and dense, instead of light and fluffy like angel food cake should be. Also when making the batter, I used the egg white product you can buy in the carton instead of cracking and seperating the egg yolks and whites. Yeah, I was lazy tonight with my ingredients but a chemistry test tomorrow has taken alot of my time tonight. So I guess that was chemistry’s way of teaching me.

Job Shadow Day: Whisk Bakery

I had job shadow day yesterday, so I decided to job shadow a master pastry chef! He owns Whisk Bakery in Downtown Charleston. It is fairly new and is on Meeting Street. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely try it out. They have breads, sandwiches, pastries, and other delicious baked goods. I’d never done baking and pastry before so I learned a lot. I got to help with eclairs; I made whipped cream, pate de choux, and pastry cream. Baking and pastry definitely requires a lot of preciseness, focus, and detail. My opinion of baking and pastry is there is not as much room for creativity in things like pastries and breads. You have to follow the recipe to a certain extent and go from there. I don’t like that, I like to create foods and play around with recipes’ ingredients. The pastry pictured above is one of the many different pastries I got to make. I got to take a whole tray of the pastries I made home!