Pomegranate Coconut Pumpkin Butter

Wow, is it nice to be back! I seriously missed blogging when I was insanely busy doing college applications, schoolwork, signing up for (one too many) extracurricular, and other high school stuff. While it’s all far from over, yesterday, I was able to record my tapes for pre-screening (the step before auditions), so now I can finally submit all of my applications and have that part of the process done with!

One of the crazier things that I’m doing this year is playing in 5 separate chamber ensembles. If you’re a musician, you can realize how much I actually signed myself up for, but even if you aren’t, that means that I’m rehearsing 7 hours a week without counting any orchestra or solo practice. What’s fun about it is that they are all different groups (as in the structure of the group), so it’s not like I’m playing 5 pieces all within the same category. For example, I’m in a flute quartet at MSM, which is the first time I’ve played chamber with a flute player. Not to mention, all of the music I’m playing is just spectacular, which can never get boring.

But that’s enough about me. It’s time to get to the real deal stuff- this pumpkin butter. I love fall baking (although by the amount I’ve been posting recently you can’t tell), but I didn’t want to have to worry about the mess that I tend to create when I bake. And, since the rule in my house is I have to clean up everything after I bake, I wanted to make something that would be delicious but at the same time save a lot of clean up time. So, I found this pumpkin butter over on Smitten Kitchen that I knew would fit the bill exactly. It’s a nice blend of spices that create the warm, fuzzy feeling that we all love about pumpkin baking, but I wanted to have more than just pumpkin puree heated up with some spices, so I added coconut milk and pomegranate juice. The pomegranate gives it enough of a bite that you get flavor as soon as you taste it, but the coconut milk makes it creamy, so as not to make the entire thing too acid. Really, you can add whatever flavors you want, but I like this variation.

rayna's pumpkin butterPomegranate Coconut Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3 1/2 cups
  • 3/8 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3/8 cup coconut milk (I used Blue Diamond)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup vanilla coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Juice of half a lemon

Directions

  1. Combine pumpkin, pomegranate juice, coconut milk,  spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice, or more to taste. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

Sometimes a simple homemade butter can brighten up your early school mornings. More recipes coming soon!

-Rayna 🙂

 

 

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Buttery Apple Cake

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope everyone’s week is going well. Mine hasn’t been too eventful, but I’m really starting to get a feel of how this year is going to work out. Most of my classes are in full swing with projects, quizzes, tests, the whole package. Even though it will be a tough year (like most junior years tend to be), I’m really looking forward to learning lots this year without it being too overwhelming.

You can tell fall has really begun once Rosh Hashanah has gone by. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and one of the traditions is to eat apples and honey, to celebrate a sweet new year. Although this cake doesn’t have any honey in it, this delectable delight from Martha Stewart would be a perfect way to end your new year, or just a great way to get into the swing of fall baking. Who doesn’t love that?

Buttery Apple Cake

Makes one 8 inch Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Heavy cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325. Coat an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread apples in pan; set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour over apples. Bake until set and pale golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  3. Make the topping: Stir together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Remove cake from oven, and pour topping over cake. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove sides of pan, and transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve slices drizzled with cream.

A simple cake that’s sure to make your weekday that much better.

-Rayna 🙂

Shortbread

I can’t believe the end of August is drawing nearer and nearer. Although this summer has not been the most exciting in the sense that I didn’t travel any marvelous places or do anything extraordinary, it was fantastic. At the Mark O’Connor Alternative Strings Camp up at the Berklee College of Music, I made some awesome friends who have immense amounts of talent in June and then I was at home for a solid 5 weeks of gymnastics. Despite the lack of air conditioning, I got some pretty cool new skills that involved a cartwheel-tuck full off of the high beam and a front layout with a full twist on the floor! The summer came to a close with the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians, where I got to play some fantastic chamber music with some of my closest friends. Now, I’m just doing summer work and preparing for the big junior year to begin, and I couldn’t be more excited.

However, the star of the show should be this shortbread from Tartine. This has to be one of the best things that I have ever tested, and surely one of the best things that I have ever made. They are buttery but not so dense and heavy and leave your mouth with the wonderful smooth coat that only shortbread can give you. With only 4 ingredients, there is no excuse for you to not make these, especially considering that you probably have every ingredient sitting in your kitchen. What are you waiting for? Get baking!

Shortbread

Makes one 6×10″ pan, or about 60 2×0.5″ bars

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces (1 cup + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 9 ounces (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 2 2/3 ounces (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 ounce (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup superfine/granulated sugar for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 6X10 baking dish. Sift together the flour and the cornstarch. In an electric mixer, cream the very soft butter and the granulated sugar until just combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Pat the dough evenly into the prepared baking dish- it should not be more than 2/3 inch deep. Bake until the top and bottom are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. The middle of the shortbread should remain light. Let cool until warm to the touch before cutting. Sprinkle with the superfine sugar.

I’m drooling just thinking about them.

-Rayna 🙂

(Not in love with these pictures, but it’s the best I could get :/)