1) As a fan of color, this time of year has some of my favorite hues going on.
Fall. How I love thee, let me count the ways:
Not to mention the natural light. Awesomeness.
2) When there's a crisp chill in the air and I can combine wearing shorts with a casual blazer, I'm happy. I know, the style level on my clothing choices are not what I'm known for. With anyone. I like my clothing like I do my home decor---comfortable and layered. Fall is the perfect backdrop for that.
(BTW, that is not me in the photo. A professional model was used for obvious reasons.)
3) Food. Throughout the year I have no problem enjoying all sorts of epicurean delights, but Fall signals the beginning of the kind of "stick to your ribs" meals that I love.
Those are just a few of my reasons for my Fall love. Below is one more. Baker Beth is back this month with a stellar combination (like there was any doubt) of Fall like flavors, that will have you cheering for the arrival of the Season as well. Please, do enjoy. -angelo
from Baker Beth
Oh, fall. Must you be so brief?
Fall is my favorite season. No other season even comes close.
And in this part of the world, it lasts maybe six weeks. But it feels like a whole lot less.
One day it's sunny and 80, the next day, the trees are bare and we're in the grey run-up to winter.
But at least there's fall food. Soups and stews and crisps and cobblers.
And pumpkin. And pecans.
This month's cookie was borne out of a revelation on Angelo's Facebook page.
Pumpkins and pecans are his two favorite things.
I knew he liked pumpkin. Who doesn't? But a favorite thing?
I had resisted a pumpkin cookie for this month. It seemed too predictable. But we love pumpkin. Pumpkins are at their peak. Why fight it?
And happily, I realized that this offering of a cookie and dip fits in perfectly with a pattern that's emerged: February? Cookie. Dip. March. April. May. June? Cookie. Dip. July. August. September. October? Cookie. Dip.
Ah, logic. My left brain is pleased.
And so, this month, I made crispy pecan wedges and – as a creamy foil and nod to Angelo's love of cheesecake, as well – a pumpkin-cream cheese dip, with bourbon, because, well, why not?
Happy fall, kids!— Beth
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets; set aside.
In a large bowl beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour, and pecans.
Divide dough into eight equal portions (about 2/3 cup each). Place two portions on each cookie sheet in opposite corners, leaving about 7 inches between portions. Flatten portions until 1/2 inch thick.
Bake about 20 minutes or until tops are golden. (Do not underbake.) Cool on wire racks for 2 minutes. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut each cookie round into desired number of wedges. (Beth Note: The recipe, as written, calls for 6. I prefer 8.) Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.
* To toast nuts, preheat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant, stirring once or twice; cool.
To store, layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip with Bourbon
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin purée, blotted (see note, below)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin purée, butter, bourbon, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy – about 5 more minutes.
Beth Note: Pumpkin puree out of the can is very wet. For this recipe, I portioned it out into the middle of a triple thickness of paper towel and used the rest of the towel surface to blot it dry. Don't worry: It won't stick to the paper towel.
Further Beth Note: If you'd like to skip the bourbon in the dip, that's just fine. Use a bit of milk to thin the frosting to a dippable consistency.
Further Further Beth Note: This recipe makes a lot of dip. You may want to halve it.