Our table never looks like this. Usually, it is a bare wooden table that has a bowl of tomatoes, and a basket full of apples, bananas and currently pomegranates. At one time, I kept in covered and set, but the cats decided to make it their favorite spot for an afternoon nap, and then I found myself cleaning and washing the cat hair off of the tablecloth constantly. We had a family from our church over for dinner last night, and so I got to bring out the table settings. It had been so long since I have set a table that I forgot how the order of the knife/fork/spoon went! Awful, I know. I'm a terrible host. Luckily, the hubby had a little story that he used when he was younger to remember. "The fork is a princess, because it has a crown. It goes on the left. The spoon is a knight that protects the princess from the sharp knife all the way on the right." Brilliant!
So of course for this meal my desserts were the highlight. I made pumpkin brownies and an apple tart.
Both turned out pretty delicious. I ended up making the pumpkin brownies twice, because the first time I made them with unsweetened bakers chocolate, and I was suppose to use bittersweet. Oops. At least I messed up and had time to fix it! They were ok the first time, just not quite as sweet as needed. The Apple tart was surprisingly not all that sweet. But it was good that way, because you could actually taste the pure apple deliciousness. Served with vanilla ice cream, it was delightful.
The pumpkin brownies were so much fun to make! Swirling the chocolate and pumpkin looked sweet.
I was pretty pumped about making the apple tart as well, because I actually did something with the peels and cores instead of just throwing them out!
The cores and peels were used to make a simple syrup glaze to pour over the baked tart.
The rest of the menu consisted of steak, mashed sweet potatoes, parmesan rolls, green beans, and tomato-crouton mix. Didn't get to snag a picture of the sweet potatoes or the steak : (
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.
5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.
Adapted from SmittenKitchen
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
2 pounds apples (I used Honeycrisp, any tart apple will do), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400.
OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons and the cinnamon over apples.
BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.