Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Sweets

Who doesn't love kitties, pumpkins, and sunshine?
I've planned a number of things to blog about recently, but not all of them have worked out as well as I hoped. The first one was a pizza-themed stuffed squash, which I thought would be fantastic and ended up not. My brainstorm/flash-of-brilliance/genius moment was the idea to create a kind of deep-dish pizza experience inside the organic buttercup squash C and I bought on a recent trip to the quaint and country-ish north bay. Note, I can call the north bay quaint and country-ish with that bland, self-satisfied air that city people use to talk about rural areas now that we have relocated to the city from that same quaint and country-ish area. Have I mentioned how much living in San Francisco is rocking my socks? Cuz it is. In any case, the squashes looked wonderful, particularly since we acquired them on a honeyed afternoon, strolling around rustic pumpkin patches in the deliciously fall-tastic California sunshine. I should add that C (as part of a bargain the details of which I will refrain from boring you) paid dearly for the pleasure of bringing home a selection of gourds and squashes from that visit. They were ~quite~ pricey, but, again, the price reflected the beauty of the whole experience. This is especially easy for me to say as, again, I was not the one paying.

So, anyway, I hollowed out these squashes and stuffed them with layers of sauteed sausage, greens, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Then I baked them for....well....too long, as it turns out. Or maybe my error was in not adding enough moisture to the fillings before I baked them. Or maybe they needed to be covered with foil. In any case, though they were entirely edible, they were also a long way from wonderful. You will not get that recipe from me.

Instead, I want to tell you about two successes. Kind of. First, in preparation for Halloween, and after realizing that it had been a long long time since I had done any baking at all, I decided to try Isa's new recipe for traditional chocolate pudding pie. I think I've already spent some time ranting about how annoying I find the tofu + chocolate chip concoction when it is made to stand in for all things thick and chocolatey. It serves quite nicely as cupcake topping or as a dense dessert, but please don't put it in a pie shell and try to sell it to me as pudding (or as whipped cream, because,  COME ON!). Instead, when the craving for pudding strikes, and if you're anything like me, it does strike, resist the urge to buy something pre-made and back away from the tofu and chocolate chips. Back far, far away. Make this instead: Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie. Isa Chandra is a goddess. Everyone should know it.The white blobs on my pie represent my effort to transform this already perfect missive of chocolately goodness into a s'mores pie. I mistakenly thought that melting vegan marshmallows might produce something vaguely drizzle-able if not spreadable. As it turns out, not so much. Might I suggest simply dotting the top of your pudding with whole or chopped marshmallows (or better yet, ricemallow cream) should you share a similar mania for improving upon perfection? Don't do what I did. That way lies madness. And failure. Delicious, delicious failure.

Yesterday was Halloween, and we decided to mark the occasion with some special, Halloweeny candy. After mulling over our options--D wanted butterfingers, C wanted peanut butter cups, I wanted to melt some freaking chocolate over something or another--we opted for creative candy cups. These were super super simple and extravagantly rich. You know, like candy. I'm including the "recipe" here with the understanding that if you google "vegan peanut butter cups," the internet will produce a plethora of identical or nearly identical versions of the same thing. The basic idea is that you melt chocolate chips, spread the melted chocolate into cups, fill with whatever, then top with more chocolate. I'll be more specific for those of you who might feel a little trepidatious about this process and include the sincere assurance that you need fear no peanut butter cup. But also make sure that you have people over to help you eat these. Take my word for it. Anyway, here's how I made them:

1 1/2 bags vegan chocolate chips (I used WF brand)

Line a cupcake pan with standard liners. Put 3/4 of the chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring well between each one. When the chips are smooth and completely melted, spoon evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Use the back of a spoon or a pastry brush (I did a combination of both and found this process quite messy indeed) to spread the chocolate up the sides of the cupcake liners. Put the pan in the freezer while you make the peanut butter filling.

1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 t salt

Stir well. Remove pan from freezer. If the chocolate is nice and solid, drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture into the bottom of the shells. Distribute evenly and press down to cover the bottoms of the shells. We decided to get crazy and top the peanut butter mixture with either crushed pretzel bits or a single frozen cherry. (The cherry was my own genius addition to the chocolate peanut butter cup phenomenon. Remember, you heard it here first.) Press everything firmly down. Put the pan back in the freezer while you prepare more melted chocolate.

Microwave the remaining chips in the same way. When the chocolate is ready, spoon over the peanut/pretzel/cherry topping. Smooth out as much as you can. Don't worry if the chocolate doesn't completely cover the top. They're homemade. Chill out. Sprinkle with course sea salt and refrigerate.

Try not to get diabetes.