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Although the holidays have come and gone, I find there are still plenty of winter days left where the classic combo of chocolate and mint are more than acceptable.  Mint does not have to be all candy-canes and red-striped.  In fact, I can get behind fresh mint in my desserts any time of year.  So while this cake may not look like your typical mint holiday treat, it is equally tasty and timely during the cold, winter months ahead of us.

Chocolate and mint remind me of being all bundled up on a chilly day.  The mint is like the type of crisp, cold wind that makes your nose and ears turn red and the chocolate is like a cozy, hand-knitted scarf.  Or the refreshing kick that peppermint adds to a hot chocolate being sipped next to a warm fire.  So snuggle up next to a loved one with a slice of this Chocolate Mint Cake and melt all your worries away…

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This cake pairs my Classic Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Mint filling.  The cake has been iced in mint buttercream, but a plain vanilla would also pair perfectly – if that is just too minty for your liking.  To finish, I’ve created a White Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Bark to decorate the cake with.  How fun is that!?!

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Chocolate Mint Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 9 ounces white chocolate, chopped (by weight)
  • 3 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 batches. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low, stream in the hot water. Mix on medium no more than 30 seconds or until combined.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and bake until done or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean - about 24-26 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
  8. For the filling, place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.
  9. Slowly heat the cream to a simmer.
  10. Pour cream over the chocolate and let sit 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth.
  11. Add in the butter and stir until melted.
  12. Add in the peppermint extract to taste.
  13. Set aside or chill in the refrigerator until a spreadable consistency to use as the filling.
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For the White Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Bark:

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat and set aside. Melt 12 ounces of white chocolate over a double-boiler.

Once melted stir in 1/4 – 1/2 peppermint extract, or to taste.  Pour onto the lined baking sheet, reserving a couple tablespoons to tint green. Smooth out into a 1/4-inch layer with an off-set spatula. Tint the remaining chocolate green and spoon dollops of tinted-white chocolate on top and swirl with a wooden skewer. Sprinkle with mini white chocolate chips and sugar peals. Once chocolate has set, break into pieces.

 

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Happy New Year!!!!  Why hello there 2015.  Aren’t you looking good so far?

Well – here I am, still pregnant and wanting to share at least one last recipe with you all before this baby finally drops.  I made these Confetti Cookies a week or so ago.  They are so festive, fun, and full of sprinkles!  My big brother celebrated his birthday a couple days ago (just days after my supposed due date), and while I don’t know what better gift there could be than making someone an uncle for the first time, I made him these cookies in advanced – just in case I was in the hospital or something on his special day.  Well, baby did not come on his birthday and I was able to celebrate with him after all, but there was no harm in making a few dozen or so cookies as an added bonus.  Anything with this amount of sprinkles is totally appropriate for ringing in the new year, celebrating a birthday, or for snacking on while waiting for a stubborn baby to be born.

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My brother’s birthday cake last year ended up being a HUGE hit.  Remember this Whiskey-Coffee Cake?  I didn’t think I would be able to pull off another cake quite as elaborate or unique this year so I went the cookie route.  And when I say cookie, I mean like 45+ giant homemade cookies.  I doubled the recipe to make sure I had enough, and ended up with confetti cookies for days!!  This recipes comes straight from Momofuku’s MILK cookbook.  I made a batch of these a few years ago, and my brother says – to this day – that they were the best cookies he ever had.  Needless to say, he was MORE than excited and surprised when I showed up with bag-fulls of his favorite cookies a week before his actual birthday.

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Confetti Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sprinkles
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, cake flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sprinkles in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  3. Add in the oil and vanilla. Mix with the paddle attachment until small clusters form.
  4. Sprinkle the clusters onto a line baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Let cool before use.
  5. Combine the remaining sugar, butter, and corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cream together with the paddle attachment on medium for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Mix on on medium for about 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the speed to low and in the dry ingredients and sprinkles. Mix until the dough starts to come together - about 1 minute. Add the sprinkle clusters and mix for just an additional 30 seconds.
  8. Using a mechanical ice cream scoop or disher, scoop out uniform balls of dough and place on a baking sheet - they should be about the size of a golfball. Gently flatten the tops.
  9. Cover the pre-scooped balls with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Space out the chilled dough balls at least 3 inches apart and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  12. Cool cookies on their baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
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One thing that I actually really enjoy around the holidays is menu planning.  Anyone else? Maybe I’m just nuts… The hubs and I are hosting Christmas Morning this year, and I have to keep reminding myself that 1) there are only 5 of us this year 2) it’s only breakfast and 3) I am 38 weeks pregnant.  I want to make it ALL!!  From something sweet to something savory, a fancy coffee drink for the slow-cooker to recipes that I can make ahead of time – I am having the hardest time narrowing down my menu.

Seeing that Christmas is in 48 hours, I finally decided on (for now) a bagel and croissant bar (with whipped honey butter and chia jam), fluffy eggnog cinnamon rolls with (diary free – for my dad) cream cheese frosting, and a big ol’ fresh fruit platter to go with some yogurt/granola parfaits.  Too much? Never!!  LOL.  As I head out to fight the crowds at Whole Foods (hoping that people will make way for my big preggo belly), feast your eyes on this: a glorious Peppermint Red Velvet Cake Roll!  For all of you that are still menu-planning, add this to your list.  I looks super fancy and festive, but actually really easy to make.

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I’ve paired a traditional Red Velvet Cake Roll with White Chocolate Peppermint buttercream.  And before I start receiving hate mail, no – you don’t need to use red food colouring if you don’t want to.  However, it only takes a little bit to get this red – trust me, I was almost completely out of gel food colouring and just scraped the bottom of the tube with a toothpick to add to the batter.  Feel free to leave it out completely – I promise it will still taste delish.

Head on over to The Kitchn for the full recipe.

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Happy Holidays to all!!!  And if you don’t hear from me for a while, then it probably means Baby Huff decided to come early.  I can’t wait for you all to meet  him!

xoxo
Tessa Huff

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I’ve made it over 37 weeks with this pregnancy and all I want this holiday season is eggnog.  True, creamy, sinful Eggnog.  And a healthy baby boy, of course.  I suppose my mommy-instinct is stronger than my craving, and I’ve come to accept that there will be no egg yolk or rum filled drinks for this gal this year.

I bought a “Soy-nog” from the store, but it was absolutely terrible.  How did I think it would ever be good?  So I turned to Pinterest.  Now that’s laughable, isn’t it?  Not that Pinterest isn’t anything but amazing, but somehow I’ve pinned dozens of gorgeous and delicious-sounding vegan ‘nogs, but still just can’t seem to find the time to even purchase the ingredients needed to make my own.  Funny how that happens, right?  I suppose there is always next week….. Wait, Christmas is NEXT WEEK?  Better run off to finish my shopping and wrapping gifts instead.  In the meantime, let’s all enjoy this Eggnog Spice Cake:

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“In this cake, layers of spice cake have been smothered in creamy eggnog filling and enrobed in silky buttercream. The browned butter adds a nutty, warm element to the classic cake and the slight tang of the cream cheese in the filling balances everything out. Since fillings and frostings can become super-sugary very quickly, this Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect way to add rich creaminess without being too sweet. Garnish with bits of toffee candy and serve with a warm mug of eggnog.”

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Find the complete recipes over on The Cake Blog.

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Clearly, I have a thing for gingerbread desserts.  I’ve made cakes, cookies, and even a gingerbread house cake!  I am not sure if it’s the spice element, deep molasses flavor, or the fact that anything ginger around the holidays reminds me of my grandmother’s Ginger Crinkles.  Regardless of why, I just keep gravitating toward ginger and gingerbread-inspired treats.

Remember this amazing 6-layer Gingerbread Latte Crunch Cake I made last year?

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Well, I decided to turn that flavor pairing into a cookie.  Yup, Gingerbread Latte Cookies.  Along with molasses and some of my favorite spices, these sandwich cookies contain almond flour and a touch of cocoa for extra depth and a bit of softness. I paired the cookies with a rich, creamy espresso buttercream filling. They’re perfect for snacking on with one of those whipped cream-topped holiday coffee beverages or just a plain cup of joe.

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I made this cookie recipe as part of the Cooking Channel’s “31 Days of Cookies” series.  A handful of us bloggers, along with their test kitchen, have created the most delicious variety of cookie recipes for you all to enjoy this holiday season.  So go ahead, be the star of your next cookies exchange, and head on over to check them all out!

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Find the recipe for these Gingerbread Latte Cookies here.  

 

 

 

 

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‘Tis the season for giving, right? Please forgive me, but I’m gonna take a moment to be a bit selfish. Over the last 5 months, my life has been completely devoted to the recipes in my book, sprinkled with my freelance work and a few fun recipes here and there. Strangely enough, I am not sick of making cake, but just needed a mini break to get my creative juices revived. And by break, I just mean the past few weeks I spent writing instead styling every single day.

I could not be more thrilled with the photographs heading off to print for my book – but with a tight deadline and having to shoot 4-5 cakes a week, there was not a lot time to really play and experiment with new techniques and styles. After a couple weeks of my camera actually being put away, I stole a few hours this past Sunday to make a cake just for me. The flavors, the styling, the lighting – all were at my complete disposal. No restraints.  I was not working for a client, I did not have to make sure the final product coordinated with 59 other cakes, and my only pressure to get things done in a certain amount of time was the setting sun. Work hardly ever really feels like work to me, but I surprised myself by just how fun playing with different light and arrangements can be.

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My photography is ever evolving, as I think it should be. I try to practice all types of styles, so I am prepared to work with a variety of clients. But when it comes to my own personal expression through photography, I love to challenge and push my own boundaries. I strive to be just barely satisfied with what I capture, but continue to want to do better and expand my repertoire. A good day shooting ends with photos I am excited to share, new knowledge about something I tried, and an idea of what I want to experiment with next.

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I wanted to capture the chilly temperatures and short days we’ve been having up here (the sun sets at 4pm!). I think it was half luck, but I ended up getting the most gorgeous light bouncing off the windows of the building across the street to depict exactly what I was feeling. The overall tone is a bit darker than I normally work with, but I think it really helped set up the rustic feel that I wanted. The cake itself is festive but not too stuffy, so I tried to mimic this in the styling.

Speaking of, this cranberry cake is definitely a keeper. I made a simple buttermilk cake filled with a gorgeous cranberry curd and iced with silky buttercream. The sugared cranberries made for a beautiful edible garnish.  I love using ingredients to help style my photos and the cranberries added just the right pop of red to the image.  Pretty right?  So maybe being selfish every now and then to work on your craft isn’t a bad idea.  Hopefully this baby on the way will let me continue to steal some “me time” from time to time in order to keep playing and growing.

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Sparkling Cranberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup whole cranberries (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Place the cranberries, water, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan
  2. Heat over medium-high until the berries start to burst. Reduce heat and simmer until the remaining berries are soft and can be popped with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and press through a mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Extract all of the liquids and puree. Discard the skins and remaining solids.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the juice/puree back to the saucepan. Whisk in 3/4 cup sugar and eggs.
  5. While stirring, heat over medium until the mixture thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until smooth.
  6. Strain again, if desired.
  7. Transfer mixture to a heat-safe container. Cover by pressing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate until cool and thick.
  8. For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
  9. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  10. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined.
  11. With the mixer on low, alternate adding in the flour mixture and buttermilk - starting and ending with the flour.
  12. Mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of flour disappear or until combined.
  13. Evenly distribute the batter between the two cake pans. Bake for about 23-25 minutes or until done.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
  15. Once completely cool, carefully slice the cakes in half horizontally to create four even layers.
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Assembly
serves 8-10

Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish.  Pipe a 1/2″ high buttercream ring around the top edge to create a dam for the cranberry curd.  Fill with curd and spread out with an off-set spatula.  Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.  Frost cake with the buttercream or give it just a rustic crumb coat, like I’ve done.  Garnish with sugared cranberries.

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe - minus the sprinkles

Sugar Cranberries by Bakers Royale

 

 

 

 

 

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MiniMochaBundts1Did you ever notice that I post a lot of cake recipes on this blog, but not many (if any) bundt cakes? This is true because of a few reasons. 1) I lost my fancy bundt pan in our move a couple years ago, 2) Half of the bundt cakes I made in the past got stuck in the pan and split in half, and 3) I never used to understand why you would pick a bundt cake or a layer cake and miss out on all that extra filling and frosting. Well, clearly bundt cakes have stuck around for a reason. I might be a little late to the party, but now I see the appeal.

First of all, a good cake recipe doesn’t need extra filling and frosting. Most of the time, I end up leaving gobs of frosting behind on my plate after trying to eat a slice of layer cake anyways. When made with fresh, real ingredients and an awesome recipe, bundt cakes can be extremely moist and flavourful all on their own. I also find then that they are perfectly suitable for breakfast or an afternoon tea. Don’t you agree?

Secondly, they can be really pretty – especially when using a fancy, fluted pan.  I snagged these mini pans and they completely changed my bundt cake game.  I made this mocha bundt cake recipe and turned them into minis for my dad’s birthday last month.  My parents were heading out of town the day after we celebrated, so I thought individual mini cakes would be the way to go to minimize leftovers.

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Lastly, you can still frost and flavor them up with different sauces, glazes, and even plain confectioner’s sugar.  I gave these mocha bundts a maple glaze bath and could not be happier with the results.  Not too sweet and perfectly portioned.  So, there you have it.  My super quick run-down on why you might be seeing more bundt cake recipes around here.  Hope you enjoy them!

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Mini Mocha Bundt Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • splash milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 6 mini budt pans and set aside.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients (minus the cocoa) and set aside.
  4. Combine the coffee and butter in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat to melt the butter.
  5. Stir in the cocoa and sugars.
  6. Removed from heat and stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
  7. Whisk in the dry ingredients until smooth.
  8. Evenly distribute the batter between the mini pans.
  9. Bake in the pre-heated oven until done -about 18-20 minutes.
  10. Cool cakes in their pans on a wire rack until the bundt pans are cool enough to handle before inverting the cakes. Continue to cool before glazing.
  11. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar and maple syrup until smooth. Stir in milk until desired consistency is reached.
  12. Place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack before spooning glaze over the tops of the cakes. Let dry before moving.
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Too much batter for your mini pans?  Instead of over-filling them, bake extra batter in a regular cake or cupcake pan.  I suggest placing all of the mini bunds on a large baking sheet for easier transport to/from the oven – and just in case the over-flow.

 

‘Tis the season to a time of chaos! Oh, and delicious food of course. With all the hustle and bustle these days – trying to organize family feasts, fighting the shopping crowds, and trimming the trees with holiday decor, the last thing you probably have time for is menu planning. Lucky for you all, I have already scoured the web to find the best Holiday Pies for the season. From hand-held sweets to raw, healthy treats – trust me, there is something for everyone.

Joy Pie

 

 

Check out The Baker's Dozen: 13 Best Holiday Pies

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

Remember to head over to Foodie.com for more recipes or to make you own collection!

Post sponsored by Foodie, but collection and opinions are my own.

 

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It is the season for giving thanks, and I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.  So much so that I can’t hardly believe it!  Our first home, an amazing publisher picking up my book, and a baby on the way.  What more could I even ask for?  In return, I will just make delicious treats to thank the universe for our good fortune.  The only think that could make life even more amazing would be if my family and friends that lived closer.

Sadly, we will not be making it back to California for the holidays this year.  It will be the first Christmas that my husband will not be spending with his family.  My parents and brother will be up here in Canada wish us, but I will certainly miss everyone else so much.  We will not be celebrating Thanksgiving next Thursday either.  In Canada, Thanksgiving was celebrated in October (which we also missed), so my family decided to create a feast right in the middle.  My mom made a beautiful turkey with all of the traditional side dishes, plus a few new modern twists.  I, of course, brought pie.

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With all the cake making and baking that I do, it is humorous how rarely I actually make a full pie.  Maybe a couple times a year, maximum?  If I could nail down a good lattice, then maybe I’d make pie more often – lol (perhaps a new goal for next year?).  Well, with this pie, you don’t have to worry about a top crust at all.  Instead, I topped this Maple Sweet Potato Pie with toasted marshmallowy meringue topping.  I created a similar topping for an amazing pie over on The Kitchn, and just had to make it again.

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Maple Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Roll the pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp or trim the edges.
  2. Blind bake at 425 degrees until slightly golden.
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato puree, sugars, maple, and spices in a saucepan.
  4. While stirring with a wooden spoon, heat over medium-low until mixture starts to steam and everything begins to incorporate.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Add in the eggs and whisk until smooth.
  7. Use a immersion blender to completely combine (highly recommended).
  8. Pour pie filling into the blind baked crust.
  9. Reduce oven to 375 and bake until the center of the pie has just set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Once cooled, top with meringue or topping of your choice.
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Hey everyone!  Is it really nearly mid-November already?  I can’t believe it.  As I start to wrap up all the photos for the book and begin final edits, I finally had a chance to create some new content for you all.  Where is said new content?  Well, it’s on the way – I promise.

In the meantime, take a look at what is coming up soon:

Homemade Holiday Marshmallows

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Toasted Sweet Potato Pie

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Also, for those of you who really can’t wait, check out these fall favorites from the archives:

Citrus Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Pear Layer Cake

Whipped Pumpkin Butter

Cinnamon Apple Butter

Butternut Squash Hand Pies

 

Thank you all for your patience and loyalty!  And remember you can always find my regular contributions over on The Kitchn.