Cranberry Pear Tart

By Chef Megan Joy / November 17, 2014

A week ago, we were in Aspen walking around town. It started snowing like crazy, and we were totally covered in a matter of minutes!  Our valley went from mid-50’s and sunshine, with only a few little patches of snow, to a full on winter wonderland. The snow finally stopped yesterday. I think I heard somewhere that this is a new record for November- the most snowfall ever.

When it’s cold out, I’m almost always chilled, so you can bet I warmed up the best way I know how- baking! Every year our landlord sends us several bags of  Wisconsin cranberries. Pears seem to be the only fruit that’s ripe and edible at the grocery store right now, so we have plenty of those on hand. And when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

A tender, crumbly, sweet crust cradles the lightly spiced almond filling, which is topped with sliced pears and a generous amount of cranberries. The whole thing just tastes like late Autumn, holidays, and warmth. I baked this intending to serve it as a dessert, though we have enjoyed eating it for breakfast as well.

Don’t be intimidated by tarts! This recipe is a nice place to start since you simply push the tart dough into and up the sides of the pan, rather than rolling it out. While both tarts and pies are delicious, I think that tarts can be a fun update to your holiday dessert table. I’ll be posting more great holiday recipes this week and the rest of the holiday season, so stay tuned. Happy baking!

 

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Cranberry Pear Tart
Adapted from Some the Wiser 

Cranberry Pear Tart
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • TART DOUGH:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ALMOND FILLING:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • 2-3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
Instructions
  1. For the crust:
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  3. In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
  4. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse until small crumbs form.
  5. Add the two egg yolks and pulse until a dough starts to form. You may need to invert the the mixture into a bowl and gently knead until it comes together. If you're flour is super dry and your dough is still not coming together, add some additional beaten egg yolk, a little at a time.
  6. Press the dough into and up the sides of a fluted 9" tart pan. Place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until the dough has firmed up and is well chilled.
  7. Prick the tart shell with a fork several times and press a buttered piece of foil onto it. Bake for 25 minutes. The shell will not have any color.
  8. Meanwhile make the filling:
  9. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  10. Add the ground almonds, flour, and cornstarch.
  11. Beat in the egg, making sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  12. Stir in the vanilla, rum, and cinnamon.
  13. To assemble the tart, spread the almond filling in the tart shell. You may not need all of it- you only want the fill the tart about ⅓ full. Otherwise, if you add a lot of fruit, the filling with bake up and overflow. I learned this the hard way and ended up with a not so pretty tart.
  14. Top with the fruit and bake 40-50 minutes until the almond cream is golden brown and set.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, decrease the egg yolks to 1 for the crust. Baking times may also vary slightly.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

By Chef Megan Joy / October 15, 2014

Greetings!

I do apologize for the crickets that have been on here for quite some time. We finally wrapped up our busy season for 2014 weddings and I’m so delighted to have some much-needed down time.

The temperatures are slowly dropping, the sunsets are coming earlier, and the holidays are going to be right around the corner. I definitely notice an increase in my desire to be in the kitchen this time of year!

And first on our list- a spiced pumpkin cake roll. Many of you have requested a high altitude-friendly recipe for pumpkin cake rolls, and here it is. Cake rolls couldn’t be more easy to make, and they’re great for entertaining because they’re a spongy, light cake, with creamy filling that has a unique presentation all its own.

The author of this original recipe, the brilliant Rebecca Rather, recommends dressing the cake roll up  with toasted pecans, caramel sauce, and a drizzle of melted dark and white chocolate.

Left as is or dressed up, no one can resist these classic flavors of pumpkin, spice, and cream cheese.

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Pumpkin Cake Roll
Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Pumpkin Cake Roll
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • FILLING:
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1⅓ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin (optional)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Cover the bottom of a 12 x 17" rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with baking spray.
  3. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until thick and frothy.
  4. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and forms slow ribbons when the whisk is lifted from the bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture ⅓ at a time, beating at medium speed until incorporated.
  7. Add the pumpkin and mix on low speed until combined.
  8. Pour the egg whites into a clean bowl and whip on high speed, adding the sugar a little at time, until medium peaks form.
  9. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter.
  10. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth carefully.
  11. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and springs back when lightly touched.
  12. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes.
  13. For the filling: While the cake is baking, place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until smooth.
  14. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and spices and beat until combined.
  15. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  16. Fold the whipped cream gently into the cream cheese mixture.
  17. To assemble the cake: remove the cake from the pan without removing the parchment paper. Top the cake with the filling.
  18. Begin peeling the cake away from the parchment paper as you roll it up, starting at the short end closest to you.
  19. When the cake is completely rolled up, set it on a serving plate or wrap it well and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and the baking soda to 2 teaspoons. Baking times may vary slightly.

Key Lime Pie Sandwich Cookies

By Chef Megan Joy / August 10, 2014

When August rounded the corner a little over a week ago, I panicked. Where had summer gone? 

This has been my busiest summer by far, filled with lots of beautiful weddings and wonderful clients, but with weddings every weekend it sure does fly. 

I made these cookies on a whim the other evening. First, I couldn’t stop sneaking bites of the dough, then I couldn’t stop eating the baked and finished cookies. That says a lot for someone who is constantly around cake and pretty “sugared”-out. 

I want to describe these as a lemon bar made into a sandwich cookie- but using lime and graham crackers in there too. Not too sweet, perfectly tart and creamy, bright-tasting, and extremely addictive…

They truly do taste like you’re eating key lime pie. Enjoying one in the afternoon or following dinner makes me still feel like I have some summer left to savor. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Key Lime Pie Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Denise Bustard at Sweet Peas & Saffron

Key Lime Pie Sandwich Cookies
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • GRAHAM CRACKER COOKIES:
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup sugar for rolling
  • KEY LIME FILLING:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice (to taste)
Instructions
  1. To make the cookies: Preheat your oven to 365 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla and egg yolk, beat until smooth.
  5. Add the all-purpose flour, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until a dough forms.
  6. Roll the dough into 1" balls, then roll in sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and the bottoms are just barely golden brown (this will keep them soft).
  8. Let cool completely.
  9. To make the filling: Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth.
  10. Add the powdered sugar, lime zest, and lime juice. Taste and adjust if necessary- maybe you want it more tart or more sweet.
  11. Spread some of the filling on one cookie and sandwich with another.
  12. Serve immediately.
  13. Makes about 12 sandwiches.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the baking powder to 1/4 teaspoon and baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon. The oven temperature can also be increased to 375 F.  Baking times may vary slightly. 

Blueberry Buckle

By Chef Megan Joy / July 2, 2014

Sifting through blueberry recipes last night, I was delighted to have discovered this one for blueberry ‘buckle’. I am new to making buckle. We’ve had cobbler, crumble, and crisps, but never this. 

What is a buckle, you ask?

A buckle is a type of cake (1 layer) that has a streusel on top. The name buckle supposedly comes from the buckled appearance on the top of the cake from the streusel topping. And from my research, it’s traditionally made with blueberries. 

This was exactly what I wanted to get out of my excess blueberries- a coffeecake sort of baked good with a ton of fruit, and a bit of textural contrast on the top. I don’t see why you couldn’t make this with peaches, plums, or other berries. 

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On Monday we camped out at Piney Lake and I wish I had made this beforehand so we could have enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning, while taking in the view. 

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful summer. Happy baking!

 

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Blueberry Buckle
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Buckle
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • STREUSEL:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • CAKE:
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 cups blueberries
Instructions
  1. For the STREUSEL: combine the flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the soft butter and mix until there are no butter chunks left and the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
  2. For the CAKE: Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  3. Grease a 9" round cake pan.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well combined.
  6. Add the salt, lemon zest and vanilla.
  7. Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined.
  8. Fold in the blueberries.
  9. Spread the batter into your prepared cake pan.
  10. Sprinkle the streusel mixture on top.
  11. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Note: This recipe was adjusted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase your baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons. 

Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

By Chef Megan Joy / June 21, 2014

As we make our way into July, wedding season is now officially in full swing. I can’t even remember the last day I had ‘off’. Strangely, this afternoon while I was making tonight’s dinner, I felt the urge to bake something other than cake. 

Cookies sounded good, but what kind? I immediately thought of this recipe, which is one of my mom’s favorite recipes for peanut butter cookies. 

They’re insanely easy, and they deliver  yummy results. Tender, soft, and speckled with milk chocolate chips, we couldn’t stop eating these after dinner. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

The first I time I made this recipe at altitude I noticed that the cookies are very crumbly when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool completely or almost completely, and they seem to fix themselves. I also added an extra egg yolk to the recipe to help combat this. 

Happy baking!

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone by Curtis Stone

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar, butter, honey, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture in two additions.
  5. Stir in the milk chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop about three tablespoons of dough for each cooking onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2½ inches apart.
  7. Bake for about 12-16 minutes, or until the cookies puff and begin to brown on the top but are still very soft to the touch.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet until nearly cool before transferring them.
  9. Makes about 20 cookies.
 Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the baking soda to 1 teaspoon. 

Strawberry Shortcake

By Chef Megan Joy / June 10, 2014

Zack and I have purchased a grill- about time- and decided it would be fun to have some friends over for a cookout this past weekend. When I entertain, it’s uncalled for not to serve dessert. I feel like I’m not doing my job as a pastry chef if I don’t. 

Zack suggested strawberry shortcake, and I immediately thought of my trusty vanilla sponge cake recipe. Rather than make individual shortcakes, or the biscuit kind, I would bake the cake batter in a deep springform pan. That way, once the cake has baked, you simply split it in half and fill with whipped cream and strawberries. You can also add some more on top, too. Fast, simple, and divine. 

Everyone loved this dessert. We devoured it so quickly I didn’t even get a photo of the assembled cake. The cake is super light, tender, and not too sweet. Paired with cool, creamy, just-a-touch-sweetened whipped cream, and fresh summer strawberries, it’s a crowd-pleaser. 

To make whipped cream, we usually add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar per cup of heavy cream, and a dash of vanilla. Whip it until it holds its shape but it still soft and creamy. 

The strawberries we purchased were just a touch on the tart side. I halved them and put them in a saucepan with a few spoonfuls of sugar to taste. Warm them over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and they start releasing a little bit of juice.  Remove from the heat before they turn mushy- we want them still firm. They’ll be cooked just slightly, which intensifies their flavor and also creates a luscious sauce. 

For other shortcake variations, try:

Vanilla Cream Scones

Chocolate & Honey Strawberry Shortcakes

Berry Creme Fraiche Cake

Ice-Cream Filled Lemon Brioche Buns

 

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Strawberry Shortcake
Cake recipe adjusted from King Arthur Flour

5.0 from 3 reviews
Strawberry Shortcake
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ tablespoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 oz cold water
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream
  • Halved strawberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease a 9" or 10" springform cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper round.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water, vanilla, and egg yolks.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until they are white, fluffy, and soft.
  5. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter in two additions.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and baking until puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then loosen the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely. It will lose some of its height as it cools, don't freak.
  8. Once the cake is cooled, split it in half horizontally and fill it with most of the whipped cream and strawberries.
  9. Top it with the second half of cake, and spread the remaining whipped cream and strawberries over the top, letting the strawberry juices run down the sides.
 Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the baking powder to 1/2 tablespoon. 

Blueberry Cake Bars

Ahh, it’s really starting to feel like summer. I got back in town  recently after being gone for nearly three weeks and I was so delighted to hear and see the hummingbirds buzzing about. The last few days have been warmer with loads of sunshine, and everyone seems to just sense that summer is right upon us. 

Abe and I took a hike today and he was thrilled to jump in and over streams of snow melt coming down the mountain. This will be his first time experiencing summer and I love watching his face take it all in. 

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The Frisco Whole Foods recently opened and as a result we ended up with more blueberries than we’ll be able to eat over the next few days. Hence, blueberry cake bars.

Light and portable, these bars contain a hint of lemon and nutmeg, while bursting with a thick layer of blueberries. The berries cook down into a jammy cloak which is what totally makes these bars so good. And just to keep things interesting, there is a dusting of sweet crumble on top- but not the kind that can be overly heavy, dry, or sweet. 

I’m likely going to have one over coffee for breakfast tomorrow, but there’s nothing stopping these from being served for dessert.

Happy baking, all.

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How to bake this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Blueberry Cake Bars
Adapted from Mom on Timeout’s Blog

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Cake Bars
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • TOPPING:
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13" pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. Add the lemon zest, buttermilk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Gently mix with a spatula until the batter just comes together. It will be thick and slightly tacky.
  6. Spread the batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle the blueberries on top.
  8. Make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, and melted butter together until crumbly.
  9. Sprinkle the topping over the blueberries.
  10. Bake the blueberry bars for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown and the center feels firm and springy.
 Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase baking powder to 2 teaspoons. 

Sour Cherry Pie

Greetings, all. 

I made this pie two weeks ago, right before leaving town. Unfortunately I was only able to enjoy one piece, while Zack was left to finish the remainder. I hear it only lasted two days. 

We bought bags of pitted sour cherries from a fruit stand in Palisade last summer, then tucked them back into the depths of the freezer. I’ve been rationing them in a way; each time I feel the urge to bake something with fruit I consider my sour cherries and decide if the recipe is worthy of them.

I did use some for the Sour Cherry Slab Pie back in August, which, was amazing. But this time I wanted a deep pie, one that was more traditional and packed with fruit. A little recipe hunting and we have this gem here. 

The pie dough calls for cream cheese- a pleasant addition, yielding a super tender, light crust. The cherries were thawed and drained before measuring, since they had so much liquid. I had to add a lot more water than the original recipe calls for- likely due to our dry high altitude air. 

This pie was probably one of my all-time favorites. Like most pies, once I have them assembled and baking I’m always left wondering why I don’t make them more often. 

And since it is Mother’s Day, here are some other great recipes for treating your mom, grandmother, or any other special mother figures in your life. 

Blueberry Crumb Coffeecake

Daffodil Cake

Cappuccino Muffins

Pumpkin Crumble Muffins

Stone Fruit Crostada

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Vanilla Cream Scones

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Berry Creme Fraiche Cake

Salted Caramel Tiramisu

 

Happy baking!

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How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Sour Cherry Pie
Adapted from Saveur

 

Sour Cherry Pie
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • 9 tablespoons cold cream cheese, cubed
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼-3/4 cup ice water
  • PIE FILLING:
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 7½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ lbs pitted and stemmed sour cherries (use fresh or frozen- if frozen, thaw and drain first)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. For the crust: Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl.
  2. Add the cubed cream cheese and butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the pieces into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse pea-sized crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle the vinegar over the mixture and add the water, starting with ¼ cup.
  4. Toss the mixture lightly with a spatula and add more water if necessary, in 1-2 tablespoon increments, until the mixture starts sticking together in clumps.
  5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and quickly knead a few times to bring it together.
  6. Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  7. For the filling: Stir sugar, salt, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.
  8. Add the cherries and vanilla, toss the mixture and allow the cherries to macerate at least 10 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  9. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  10. Roll the larger ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface to an 11" round, then ease it into a 9" pie pan.
  11. Stir the filling, then transfer it into the pastry-lined pie pan.
  12. Roll out the remaining dough to a 10" round, then cut shapes out of it or cut it into strips, and drape over the the pie.
  13. Fold edges under, and if desired brush with a little heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  14. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes.
  15. Let the pie cool for several hours before serving.
 Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase baking powder to 1/4 teaspoon, and take note that you may use less water than the crust recipe calls for. Baking times may also vary slightly. 

Creamy Caramel Sauce

We’ve had lovely weather the past week but today a pleasant little system is moving through, reminding us oh so well that we live thousands of feet up in the mountains and the weather has no mercy.

While it’s damp and chilly outside I’m going to cozy up in the kitchen and share my recipe for caramel sauce along with some tips. Having a good caramel sauce recipe in your repertoire is always tremendously helpful. I find that caramel sauce is a great finishing touch that can elevate a simple treat to an outstanding dessert. 

When I was younger I used to find caramel terribly intimidating. One Christmas I was determined to make chocolate turtles- pecans drizzled with caramel and then chocolate. I ate one warm and it was fantastic- gooey, soft perfection. Later, after they cooled, I was heartbroken to find them all hard as a rock- I’d overcooked the caramel. The whole batch (which had to have been about 5 dozen) went into the trash, inedible. 

I always found the whole description of cooking caramel a bit scary as well- “don’t splash the hot sugar syrup or you’ll get severely burnt”, “the cream will bubble violently”, etc. While these are all points to consider and be mindful of, after making caramel however many hundreds of times in my career I have discovered the safest and easiest ways to make a flawless batch. 

Caramel happens to be an incredible medium, too. Pour it hot over some chopped chocolate for a chocolate caramel sauce or stir in some fruit puree. Don’t forget the classic salted variation either. Kosher salt, flaked sea salt, and other gourmet salts work beautifully. 

Serve it warm with ice cream or fruit, drizzle over pie, spread like a glaze on brownies or blondies or bundt cake, use as a cake filling…the list goes on. 

I can’t remember where I got this recipe from, but I’ve tweaked it and used it for years.

Happy baking!

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The sugar is getting close. Thicker, big bubbles. 

 

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Time to start swirling and tilting the pan, slowly. 

 

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This is the color we want. 

 

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After adding the cream mixture, cooking for a few more minutes just to melt any hardened caramel bits. I cook mine for a few minutes extra because I like a thicker caramel sauce when I use it for cake fillings. 

 

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The consistency of the caramel sauce when warm.

 

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Room temperature caramel sauce the next day. Still soft and spreads like peanut butter. 

 

 

How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Creamy Caramel Sauce

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Caramel Sauce
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons good salt
Instructions
  1. You'll need two sauce pots- in one, add the water, followed by the sugar. The less that splatters up on the sides of the pot, the better. Sprinkle with the cream of tartar or lemon juice. The acid is what saves your sugar from hardening up and seizing, especially at high altitude. If you live above 9,000 feet, increase your cream of tartar to ½ teaspoon.
  2. Make sure the sugar is evenly moistened like wet sand, taking care not to get much sugar on the sides of the pot. If you do, just take a wet paper towel or pastry brush and push it back down into the pot.
  3. Place the sugar mixture over high heat.
  4. Meanwhile, in your second sauce pot,add the heavy cream and cubed butter. Place over medium heat- you want it to get warm. Adding the cream and butter while warm prevents the caramel from hardening up when you add it. This method also reduces the amount of bubbling.
  5. Cook the sugar to an amber brown color. When the sugar is getting close, the bubbling will slow down and the mixture will have reduced slightly. Keep an eye on your heavy cream mixture- once it's warm you can turn the heat off. If you leave the heat on and the cream gets too warm it will bubble over which is a mess.
  6. Once the sugar starts to color tilt the pan around slowly to swirl the sugar and help it cook evenly. If you're nervous about this step, turn the heat down to give yourself plenty of time. High heat will caramelize the sugar much faster.
  7. You want the caramel to be the color of an amber ale beer for the best caramelized flavor. Too light and it won't have much flavor, too dark and it will be bitter.
  8. Once the caramel is amber, turn off the heat. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly, carefully pour the heavy cream and butter mixture (which should be warm) into the caramel, ⅙th of the mixture at a time. Stop when it bubbles up high and let it settle before adding more. Do not stir it into the caramel, just stand and pour, standing back if necessary. You don't want to pour all of it in at once or the caramel may bubble up and over the pan. By pouring in little bits at a time, you have better control over how crazy your caramel bubbles decide to get.
  9. Once the cream is completely added. Give your caramel a slow stir or two. It may bubble some more.
  10. Place the caramel back on medium-low heat. Add the vanilla and salt, and let the caramel cook for a few minutes just to melt any hardened caramel bits on the bottom of the pan.
  11. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature to gauge the consistency.
  12. If your caramel is thinner than you'd like it to be, cook it for a few minutes to cook out some of the moisture. If it's thicker than you'd like, add a few tablespoons of heavy cream and mix in completely. Keep in mind that the caramel will be more fluid when it's warm, and thicker when it's cold or refrigerated.
  13. Makes about 2 cups.
  14. When refrigerated, caramel lasts for several months.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at seal level, this recipe should work the same. Cream of tartar and lemon juice aren’t particularly necessary at seal level, but they do add sugar-seizing ‘insurance’ to your caramel. 

Whole Wheat Muffins

By Chef Megan Joy / April 10, 2014

My life the past month has been pretty hectic. I’ve had so many weddings, cake tastings, and other projects that I literally have not had any time for ‘casual baking’ at home, unfortunately. 

What do they say- when it rains, it pours?

Photoshoot 2

Photoshoot

On Tuesday I wrapped up a cake photo shoot and now, for the time being, I have a little time on my hands. Yesterday evening I baked these muffins, as well as the delicious Double Lemon Bars that are now a classic in our home. 

We had salad for dinner and I wanted something a bit hearty, a bit sweet, and satisfying in the way that only carbs can be. A quick Internet search yielded these muffins. I threw some milk chocolate chips in ours, but I think these would be exceptional with some toasted nuts, mashed banana, fresh berries, or diced apple. 

These came together in no time and baked up nice and high with puffy domed tops. 

So, now that I have a bit more freedom, what should I bake next?

Happy baking!

hab-ww-muffins

How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Whole Wheat Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Whole Wheat Muffins
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup safflower or canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1½ cups toasted nuts, fruit, or chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, vanilla, and egg.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
  6. Fold in any extras like nuts, fruit, or chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop the batter into each muffin cup, this recipes yields about 10 muffins.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the muffins are puffed and the centers spring back when lightly touched.
  9. Makes about 10 muffins.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the baking powder to 3 teaspoons. Keep in mind that baking times may vary. 

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