Saturday, November 19, 2011

More To Thanksgiving Than Pumpkin Pie

Courtesy Martha Stewart
Our Thanksgiving hostess sent out an email a few weeks ago asking her guests to let her know what they plan to bring for the holiday.

Everyone likes to bring dessert, she said in her email, but and she wanted to avoid serving 20 apple pies and nothing else for dessert.

It might not seem like Thanksgiving without a traditional assortment of apple or pumpkin pies. But you can definitely wow your host, or your guests, with some fun and tasty fall surprises on the dessert table.

A few weeks ago Megan Olund at Dough Heads Bakery in Englewood, N.J. shared her pumpkin whoopie  pie recipe. My husband is addicted to these and we actually fight over them when I bring them home from the bakery. So they have my vote this year as the best alternative dessert for Thanksgiving.

But for something that involves a few less steps, I definitely recommend my old standby favorite: Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins. Before I discovered whoopie pies this was my go to recipe for a party.

They always got rave reviews. It probably has something to do with the last step: brushing the muffins with melted butter and rolling in cinnamon sugar.

So if you are still mulling over what to make for Thanksgiving dessert, break with tradition and add something a little different to the table.

Martha Stewart's Pumpin Doughnut Muffins


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

For The Sugar Coating:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

Make batter:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dough Heads Bakery

Megan Olund's Pumpkin Whoopie Pie
Sorry I haven't been writing lately, but I've been spending most of my weekends interning at Dough Heads Bakery  in Englewood.

Since I am still working during the week, it is a pretty hectic schedule.

But I feel lucky that I picked Dough Heads to spend my weekends and finish school, if I can't be at home catching up on some sleep.

I discovered the bakery after reading an article about it in The Record. Megan Olund, a French Culinary Institute graduate and former retail manager at Amy's Breads, opened Dough Heads in January with her partner Chris Heslin.

Some of my co-workers were already raving about the soup and quiche so I went to check it out and met Megan. The place instantly reminded me of the coffee shop my college roommate and I used to dream about opening during late night alcohol induced conversations. We would know all the customers and our friends would hold poetry readings and play music.

Wonderful deep chocolate brownies 
I was also quickly won over by the brownies, which are the best I've ever had. And for a serious chocolate addict like me, that says a lot. Megan revealed that her secret is unsweetened chocolate. I've also become a huge fan of the coconut melty bars and my parents rave about the cupcakes.

Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting
Before I came along, Megan had been doing on the baking on her own while Chris ran the front of the store, greeting customers, making coffee and taking orders for birthday and wedding cakes. Chris and Megan are on a first name basis with most of their customers. I frequently hear them having long conversations when I am in the back scooping red velvet whoopie pies or cutting up croissants for bread pudding.

Chris at the counter helping a customer 

Megan making crumb cake in the kitchen
I was told that working in kitchens can be pretty grueling and I would have to develop a thick skin. That is why I feel like I lucked out finding Dough Heads. I think I'm learning a lot and Megan has been great to work for -  she has endless patience when I try to shape baguettes and they end up looking like a long snake that ate a mongoose. And she was very understanding when I didn't fill the eclairs enough on my first try. We had to hold each one upside down after they were covered in chocolate to add more filling. Somehow that ended with me getting to eat one of the barely filled eclairs, so I don't think I was in any trouble.

I'm probably responsible for the oddly shaped baguette on the left 
On Sunday mornings when customers from the neighborhood stream in for coffee, croissants and muffins I get a little jealous that there isn't such a place near my home. I would spend all my afternoons there drinking coffee, working on my lap top and eating sweets until my stomach hurt (which I sometimes get to do now under the excuse of "trying of the products").

Megan agreed to share her pumpkin whoopie pie recipe with me. I think it would make a perfect treat on the Thanksgiving dessert table, or anytime during the fall. And it seemed appropriate because Megan is from Maine, where the whoopie pie craze started.

Please stop by and visit! I'll be working in the back on weekends through the new year, and the bakery is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Dough Heads Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
 Courtesy of Megan Olund

1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
one 15 oz can pumpkin

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 t  cloves

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and sugar until its light and fluffy, nearly the consistency of sour cream. This can be left going on the mixer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl in between additions. The vanilla can be added with the eggs.

In a separate bowl combine combine sour cream, oil and pumpkin. Stir to mix together. In a second bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix together to combine I usually just stir with my hand.

After adding eggs to the butter and sugar, alternately add wet and dry ingredients in three additions, starting and ending with dry. Keep mixer on low during this step and scrape down bowl in between additions.

Using a small ice scream scoop, about the size of a tablespoon and a half, scoop leveled whoopie pie halves onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. For easier scooping, first refrigerate the batter for at least half and hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, until the halves are golden and spring back when touched.

Makes 36 whoopie pies or 74 halves

Pumpkin whoopie pie filling:

1 pound of Marshmallow fluff
2 sticks butter butter
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until combined.
Add in the confectioners sugar and beat until light then beat in the fluff.

To assemble:

Scoop a small amount of filling onto cooled whoopie pie half, top with another half and gently press together.