Homespun desserts such as crisps, cobblers, betties, slumps & pandowdy’s are all variations on the same theme. As much as we like to be definitive, these old fashioned desserts are ‘folk-food’ passed down orally from mother to child and like all folk culture slight variations arise from kitchen to kitchen.
My spice drawer gets a good workout in the fall. I want to add fall spices to as many things as possible. Warm fruit desserts are a perfect candidate for doing just that.
The filling for this cobbler is a combination of peaches, brown sugar, butter and some added spices. All of that is cooked briefly to give it a caramel-like flavor. The topping is a simple one but the combination of spices adds such amazing flavor and is the perfect complement to the peaches. I’ve added cardamom to both the filling and topping. If you follow the blog, you are probably aware of my obsession with cardamom. Definitely feel free to use your favorite combination and ratio of spices.
I think this Chai-Spiced Peach Cobbler is everything you could ever want in a fall dessert.
Chai-Spiced Peach Cobbler w/ Pepita Oat Crumble
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, pistachios, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom & sugar.
Using a pastry blender, combine flour mixture with butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Store the mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat & add in butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the (thawed) peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom & black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer & cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Pour cooked peaches into a large casserole dish & evenly top with the pistachio-oat crumble.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown & the sauce bubbles around the edges.
Once finished baking, serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream if you wish.
For many, orange juice and oatmeal are seen as breakfast food. I like both, so using them in baked goods works for me.
Most of the time, when it comes to cake or cookies, extract is where your flavor will come from. I recall an orange loaf my mother made by first cooking the sugar with orange zest and adding it to the batter. It gave the loaf such a bold orange flavor.
In these cookies, I’m using both the zest and juice of a fresh orange and a tiny bit of lemon zest to add another dimension of citrus. The oatmeal is processed to an oat flour.
The use of both butter and olive oil further enhances the flavor of the cookies. Butter is smooth and creamy, adding the dairy richness, while the oil provides a unique flavor and aroma.
Once the cookies are baked, a glaze using more fresh orange juice and zest makes these orange slice cookies ‘addicting’ as Brion says.
Orange Slice Cookies
Combine remaining orange juice & zest with enough powdered sugar to make a glaze consistency. When cookies are cool, brush with glaze,
Not whole muffins, just the tops. The idea was first conceptualized by Elaine Benes, a fictional character on the American television sitcom Seinfeld, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I was not a Seinfeld fan and rarely even watched the show but the series lasted for nine years so obviously many did. It centered around four single friends dealing with the absurdities of everyday life in New York City, USA. Something as simple as soup or muffins became the focal point of the show but with a unique twist that only the actors on the show could make funny and memorable.
In a 1997 episode, The Muffin Tops, Elaine helps her old boss open his own business where they only sell the tops of muffins. ‘It’s the best part (nobody likes the stumps), it’s crunchy, it’s where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing’.
Nowadays we have specific baking pans made just for making muffin tops and I think most food stores sell them. Muffins are an item I’ve certainly made my fair share of over the years in the food industry. But I have to say, I love the whole thing, especially if its soft and cakey.
This time of year is usually filled with pumpkin and sweet potato dishes and treats. These muffin tops are quite special with a slight sweet potato flavor packed with plenty of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and an added bonus of some pepita seeds.
Sweet Potato Muffin Tops
In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add pepita seeds, mix & set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a MUFFIN TOP PAN or line with paper cups. (This recipe makes 10 muffin tops the size shown in the blog picture). Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar & eggs together; add sweet potatoes, oil, milk & orange zest (or vanilla) & whisk again. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir until JUST combined. Do not overmix the batter.
Scoop batter into muffin top pan; Sprinkle with streusel topping.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.
Apple season is upon us, so its a good time to make some of those ‘homey’ kind of desserts. During the summer we have an endless array of fresh fruit available in the grocery stores. Apples are often taken for granted because their kind of a staple fruit you could say. We have countless varieties to choose from for fresh eating or cooking. One that is well known is called the Granny Smith apple. Its acidity and strong flavor makes it a frequent choice for both baking and fresh eating. Consistently rated among the top ten apples in popularity, its hard to believe it wasn’t part of the North American experience until the 1970’s.
It turns out there really was a ‘Granny Smith’. As the story goes, Maria Ann (Granny) Smith was cooking with French crab apples and discarded the remains in a compost pile near a creek flowing behind her farmhouse outside Sydney, Australia. From the pile sprouted a seedling unlike any apple she had ever encountered. She was so taken with its bright flavor and versatility, she decided to propagate the trees herself.
In the season from September through November, Granny Smith apples have become a staple of fall baking. Used extensively in seasonal pies, cakes, cobblers and crisps, it all began with a happy accident discovered by its namesake halfway around the world.
Apple Crumble w/ Vanilla Cardamom Cream
Peel, core & slice apples. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a small bowl, toss the apple slices with lemon zest & juice, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, oats & salt with a fork until uniform. In a glass pie dish, melt the butter in the microwave until about half melts. Pour the butter into the flour mixture & incorporate with a fork. Leaving the excess butter in the pie pan, arrange the apple slices in the pan. Top with the flour-oat mixture.
Bake until apples are cooked through and the topping is golden, about 45 minutes.
Vanilla Cardamom Cream
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together 'cream' ingredients. Simmer over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until cooked & custard will coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat & cover with plastic wrap, making sure to lightly press it over the custard to avoid a 'skin' forming. Serve over or with crumble.
‘Everything’ bagels have been around at least since the 1980’s, but more recently we are seeing the everything spice blend itself, showing up on grocery store shelves.
Everything spice has similar flavor notes to a number of Middle Eastern spices and dishes that have moved into the mainstream over the past few years. The mix of poppy and sesame seeds, garlic, dried onion and salt has always been a popular variation for people who want some tang at breakfast or brunch.
It automatically gives almost any food item that you dust it with a ‘trendy upgrade’. On one recipe website they list more than 101 ways to use the everything spice. Some of them included cheeseballs, savory french toast, meatloaf, cheesesteak and risotto.
To be sure, this spice isn’t for everyone. If you like blueberry bagels and red velvet doughnuts this garlicky blend won’t work for you.
In August of 2020, the Presidents Choice Brand made their ‘copy kat’ version available here in Canada. For that reason, I see no excuse not to buy some. You can stir it into plain cream cheese, sprinkle it on grilled meats, avocado toast, rice, scrambled eggs, salads, chicken, pancakes or use it on top of some ‘Everything Spice Rolls’. Yum!
'Everything Spice' Rolls
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup oats, honey, butter & salt with boiling water until combined. Cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast with warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until foamy. Pour into the oat mixture followed by flaxseed meal, whole wheat flour & 1 cup all-purpose flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir into a shaggy dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & knead until the dough is smooth & elastic, about 8-10 minutes. If the dough feels too sticky, add a little more all-purpose flour (up to 1/2-3/4 cup). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover & let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough & let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half; cut each half into 12 portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot; tuck top end of rope under bottom edge of roll. Place each roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap coated with baking spray; let rise in a draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Combine egg & water in a small dish; brush egg mixture over rolls. Sprinkle with everything seasoning mix. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
- If you wish, shape your dough into more than one style of bun.
Faster to make than cookies, easier to transport than a cake and equally as delicious as both, what’s not to love about dessert squares (or in this case ‘diamonds’).
The classic rice krispie treats recipe found on the back of the cereal box call for very few ingredients. While we will forever appreciate the simplicity of the sweet treat in its unaltered form, its hard not to experiment with a few new ideas.
There’s a good reason why oatmeal cookies are the poster child for rolled oats. Oatmeal can enhance a whole range of dough and/or batters from pancakes to bread & muffins, etc.
The idea of putting oatmeal, rice krispies, pumpkin seeds & candied fruit peel all in one dessert bar is the ultimate rice krispie treat in my opinion.
You can choose to cut them in whatever shape you wish depending on the the baking pan you use. I wanted to bake these in a 9 x 13 pan and cut them into diamonds for this blog recipe. I had previously made the same recipe in a drop cookie form. Same great taste, just a different shape.
Crispy Seed & Fruit Oat Diamonds
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line (w/parchment paper) baking pan of choice & set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda & oatmeal.
In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugars until light & fluffy. Mix in vanilla & eggs until well incorporated. Add flour mixture & mix until completely combined.
Stir in seeds, fruit & rice krispies with a spatula.
Press batter into prepared baking pan. Bake 20 minutes, until LIGHTLY golden on the edges. These bars are best if slightly under-baked. They may look shiny & under-baked, but will darken & set up as they cool.
Cool completely then cut into desired size & shape (squares, diamonds or bars). Drizzle with lemon glaze & remove diamonds from pan.
- If you are not a fan of pumpkin seeds or candied fruit peel, just substitute them with your own favorites.
We are now officially into fall, so its time to think in terms of a bit of pumpkin. I had not considered pumpkin as part of a sandwich cookie before, but oatmeal with pumpkin and cream cheese makes good sense to me. There’s more to oatmeal cookies than the recipe on the Quaker Oats box. In fact there’s a lot of amazing combinations out there but first a bit of food history.
Oatmeal cookies evolved from oatcakes, a type of plain flatbread made centuries ago by the British and the Scots. Raisins and nuts were added to the mix somewhere around the Middle Ages to make them tastier. When oatmeal cookies became elevated to the ranks of ‘health food’, a recipe for them appeared on containers of Quaker Oats. These recipes were circulated widely and oatmeal cookies were soon common in households throughout North America.
An important part of these cookies lies in the spices. Rather than using a pre-made ‘pumpkin pie spice’, I like to give them a personal touch by using my own combination. This way, you can control the flavor better. Feel free to adjust the spice mix to suit your taste or just simply go with cinnamon.
Oatmeal Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies
In a small bowl, whisk together spice mix combination from recipe notes & set aside.
In a bowl, beat together cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add in pumpkin & mix until fully incorporated. Add remaining spice mixture & powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing each prior amount to fully mix into the filling before adding more.
Spread or pipe filling on half of the cooled cookies & top with remaining cookies. This recipe makes 5 dozen filled cookies so you may want to freeze some.
- Spice Mixture Recipe (2 1/8 tsp):
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp EACH nutmeg & cloves
- 1/8 tsp EACH ginger, cardamom & white pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground star anise