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Surprise Baby Shower for Lauren!

September 22, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Minis 3 | Espresso and Cream
My good friend, Lauren, has been mentioned a number of times on this blog. She is one of my oldest blog friends, and we followed each other’s blogs for years, practically since the beginning when I’m sure neither of us had any clue what we were doing. Lauren has gone from corporate finance guru to small bakery owner to her most exciting new role: momma-to-be! I’m so excited for Lauren and her hubby and can’t wait for them to welcome their little boy soon.

A couple of Lauren’s friends are hosting a surprise virtual baby shower for Lauren today. And, to keep things true to Lauren’s love of sweets and all things mini, we all created desserts that are miniature in nature.

Unfortunately, my attempts at miniature crust-less mini pumpkin pies with struesel topping were an utter failure. Well, I guess I can’t say they were a total failure since Joe still devoured them and said they were pretty tasty, but they’re certainly not worth sharing on E&C, at least not yet. However, I absolutely couldn’t miss out on the shower and getting a chance to celebrate Lauren, recipe or no recipe! Here are a few other pumpkin pie recipes on E&C I would suggest you check out:


1. Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (aka Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie)
2. Caramel Pumpkin Pie
. Skinny Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

And in case you’re looking to check out the other recipes from the shower, here they are!

Mini Pumpkin Layer Cakes from The Baker Chick

Mini Apple Spice Cupcakes from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Mini Nutella Brownies from The Cooking Actress

Mini Iced Oatmeal Cookie Apple Pies from Girl Versus Dough

Pickles in a Blanket from The Lemon Bowl

Mini No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecakes from Bake or Break

Mini Cookie Cocktail (and Mocktail!) from We Are Not Martha

Mini Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fondant Cakes from London Bakes

Double Decker Birthday Cake Blondie Bites from Baker By Nature

Mini Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes from Eats Well With Others

Roasted Caprese Stack with Peaches from Warm Vanilla Sugar

Crunchy Cookie Butter M&M Bars from The Avid Appetite


Frosted Sugar Cookie Pumpkins

September 16, 2014

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream


It’s not often, but every once in a while I get the urge to bake something cute. I should clarify that “cute food” really isn’t my thing, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to resist the seasonal section at Target and I leave with, say, a pumpkin cookie cutter and fall-colored sprinkles that I didn’t even know I needed. Dang you, Target. Thankfully, the cookie cutter was only $1, meaning you, too, can easily get caught up in the excitement of fall, cute food and all things pumpkin.

Since everyone is posting pumpkin-flavored desserts, I decided to go with something that looked like a pumpkin rather than tasting like one. Although these cookies may look like a lot of work, they really aren’t too much of a pain to make since the decorating is on the simple side. And for a little extra time and effort, it’s worth it for the adorable end result.

This frosting is incredibly easy to work with and very versatile. The key to getting the glassy look on the cookies is to outline with a stiffer frosting, then thin the remaining frosting with a bit more milk so it spreads easily when put in the center of the cookie. The border you piped around the edge will prevent the thinner frosting from dripping out all over the cookies and give you a polished, perfect look. I could easily see this recipe be adapted for other Halloween shapes, like a bat or ghost. The sky’s the limit!

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies | Espresso and Cream

Frosted Sugar Cookie Pumpkins
Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appetit Dec. 2013.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Decorator Frosting
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk, plus more for thinning
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Orange and green food coloring
  1. Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, combine salt, baking powder and flour until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and well combined. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla or almond extract. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat until just combined.
  3. Place on lightly floured surface and roll to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into pumpkin shape using a pumpkin cookie cutter and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are just lightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter and milk until smooth and well combined. Use enough milk to create a frosting that is smooth but firm enough to pipe through a pastry bag.
  5. Place ¼ of the frosting in a small bowl and color with green food coloring. Color remaining frosting in large bowl with orange food color. Place a small amount of the orange and green frostings in pastry bags or zip top bags with the end snipped off. Use orange frosting in pastry bag to pipe a border around the edge of the pumpkin.
  6. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons milk to the remaining icing until it is slightly softer and runs a little more freely. Spoon a small amount of icing into the center of each lined cookie. Tilt the cookies around so icing in center completely fills the outlined cookie.
  7. Repeat process with the green frosting on the stem. Allow cookies to set, about 30 minutes.



Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies

July 31, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies | Espresso and Cream
Hello, strangers! It feels like forever when in reality it’s only been about a week since I last checked in with you. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen more than enough photos of our vacation, but I’ll be sharing a full update of our time in Boston and Maine very soon. It was such a wonderful trip and even the rainy weather couldn’t get us down. A huge highlight? We happened to be in Kennebunkport at the same time as Natalie and Dan, so we grabbed ice cream together and chatted. So fun!

Now that we’re back home, I’m really looking forward to eating a little more normally. Don’t get me wrong, we ate really well on our trip, but probably a little too well! Today it’s been really nice to have a plain bowl of oatmeal with almond butter for breakfast and a sandwich with fruit for lunch. I think there’s a good reason vacation doesn’t last forever.

Surprisingly, we didn’t eat many sweets on our trip at all. We loaded up on savory items like lobster rolls, fried fish, and the most indulgent egg dishes for breakfast. When I got home the craving for a little something sweet hit right away, so I raided the bulk bins at Whole Foods on my grocery trip this morning and got to work.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream


These cookies really do have it all. They’re packed with coconut, cashews, dried tart cherries and dark chocolate. And somehow, these cookies manage to feel a little bit healthy, which I’m sure is just an illusion since they also have plenty of brown sugar and butter, too. I made them on the smaller size, which means I can totally justify eating more than one.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies
Serves: 30
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (such as a Silpat). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until sugars are combined and mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined Add in the cashews, cherries, chocolate and coconut and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Use a small metal cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.



Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles

July 25, 2014

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles | Espresso and Cream
Sometimes you just need to eat a little raw cookie dough, am I right? Which always sounds like a really good idea at the time, until you have a spoonful (or 8) and then feel sick to your stomach with all the sugar and chocolate and find yourself too sick to actually enjoy a cookie when they come out of the oven. Tell me I’m not the only person who does that… Not that I’m really in the position to be eating raw cookie dough anyway, but I’ve been down that road many a time.

In the afternoon when a snack craving strikes, I usually reach for something healthy-sweet, meaning a Larabar, a Quest bar, a smoothie of some sort, or yogurt with fruit. But the other day I had the craving for cookie dough, so I spent some time in the kitchen determined to find a way to make a suitable, healthy alternative.

These cookie dough bites are made with ingredients you can feel good about: cashew butter, honey, protein powder, cinnamon and oats. Seriously, that’s it! But since they’re a little on the soft and sticky side, like real cookie dough, I decided to roll the balls in sprinkles before putting them in the fridge. And to be honest, I was a little surprised at how closely they resembled the real thing! If you’re feeling really crazy, feel free to stir a couple spoonfuls of mini chocolate chips into the dough before making the balls.

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles 2 | Espresso and Cream

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles
Recipe type: Snack, Dessert
  • ⅔ cup JIFF cashew butter (you could substitute peanut butter or almond butter, but NOT the natural type)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Vega French Vanilla protein powder (or other protein powder of choice)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • Sprinkles, if desired
  1. In a food processor, combine the cashew butter, honey, cinnamon and protein powder. Blend until well combined. Add in the oats and blend about 30 seconds more, or until oats are broken up and combined into the dough.
  2. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough into balls. Roll dough in sprinkles. Place in a plastic storage container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Keep in the refrigerator for a healthy and indulgent snack any time a craving strikes!



Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust

July 7, 2014

Classic Apple Pie (1) | Espresso and CreamUpdate: We went in for another scan on Thursday before the long weekend and got some strange news. Things on our ultrasound looked very normal, pretty much a 180-degree change from our scan on Monday. The doctor and the ultrasound tech didn’t know what to make of it all, so I’m chalking it up to God. Sound good? We’ve been told to still expect miscarriage, but that we now have a legit reason to hope. So we’ve been playing a very strange waiting game until Wednesday, and your continued prayers would be much appreciated.

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! Joe and I spent a lot of time working on the house, in the yard, and even painted our office, a room that I’ve intentionally left out of the E&C house tour because I’ve disliked it so much. We’re a long way from revealing the final product on the blog, but I’ll be sharing some sneak peaks Instagram as we pull the room together.

A few weeks back I made a pie and I would be lying if I said the crust was anything worth eating. Truth be told, it was horrible. Sometimes pie crust is hard and scary, isn’t it? Well, I was determined to have success the second time around because that first attempt was just haunting me. With a new sense of resolve, I went back the the kitchen to make another pie crust for a classic apple pie. The result was amazing, if I do say so myself. It was flaky and tender and perfect enough to bring over to Joe and his friends, who needed a break from painting a house on a hot day.

Classic Apple Pie (2) | Espresso and CreamI based my pie crust on one of my favorite recipes from Sherry Yard in her fabulous baking book, Desserts by the Yard. Over the years I’ve made great pie crusts and horrible pie crusts. And I think that if I had to recap what makes success versus failure, it would be in the way the liquid is incorporated into the dry ingredients. Sometimes I’m feeling impatient and I dump the water in rather quickly, in two or three additions. The problem with doing this is that the water doesn’t get evenly incorporated into the flour mixture and I end up needing to add more water than the recipe calls for.

But when I’m patient, adding just a drop or two at a time and constantly using a fork to stir the flour mixture as I add water, that’s when I have the most success, when the magic of tender, flaky pie crust happens. So give yourself a few extra minutes to incorporate your liquids into your dry ingredients and you’ll be blessed with the end product.

Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust
Serves: 12
  • PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS (for 2 crust pie)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup ice water
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Golden Delicious apples (peeled and cored)
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  1. To make Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt until well combined. Break up the shortening into small pieces and add the shortening to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture, too. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the butter and shortening are the size of peas.
  2. Gradually add the ice water (1 spoonful at a time) to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix the water into the flour mixture as you add spoonfuls of water. This is key, slowly adding the water. It ensures that you get the flour mixture evenly hydrated without having to add too much water.
  3. Divide dough into two portions and gently press into rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll one of the dough rounds out onto a floured surface to form the bottom crust. Press crust into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
  5. In a very large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture into crust-lined pie plate. (There will be a lot of apple mixture since it bakes down and loses volume.)
  6. Roll out second dough round onto floured surface. Top pie filling with second crust. Roll edges of pie crust together to seal. If desired, crimp edges. Cut two to three slits on top of pie crust for steam to escape.
  7. Heat oven to 375F. Place a metal baking sheet under pie plate to catch any excess liquid. Brush top of pie with the milk. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 1 hour. Cut into slices to serve.


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