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Challenge: maple syrup (#challengemaplesyrup) is on! My hometown buddy Matt, @thebuddingkitchen on Instagram, suggested an online game of tag using a particular ingredient. I’ve been in a maple mood lately, so I adapted my salted caramel budino–Italian for pudding–to create a seasonal maple variety. So, let’s go maple–and let’s go, Middletown! You’ll be sure to fall (HA, autumn humor) for this tasty treat!

SALTED MAPLE BOURBON BUDINO
adapted from my Salted Caramel Budino recipe

Combine:
4 Biscoff cookies, crushed
1/4 cup pecans, chopped coarsely
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, whisk and set aside:
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2. In another small bowl, whisk and set aside:
3 egg yolks

3. In a small saucepan, combine and heat over medium-high heat, just to a simmer; then set aside:
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
scant ½ cup maple syrup–I bought mine locally from Durham Sugarhouse
½ vanilla bean, scraped

4. Get ready to add at the end:
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1½ teaspoon Maker’s Mark

Now, here’s where we start moving quickly and combining the previous steps.

Slowly whisk eggs into hot milk mixture.
Whisk milk/cornstarch into milk/eggs.
Cook over medium-high heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1½ teaspoons Maker’s Mark.
Pour through a fine-mesh sieve.
Evenly divide budino (about 1/2 cup each) into four small serving dishes.
Top with chopped Biscoff cookie/pecan mixture.

Chill. Enjoy. That’s as good a plan as any for a Sunday, wouldn’t you say?

And if you’re up for joining #challengemaplesyrup, make something maple-y and tag us (@kattyskitchen and @thebuddingkitchen) on Instagram!

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Magic cookie bars are a childhood favorite I’ve never outgrown. Today, I’m sharing them with a fall twist–fresh bits of apple and tart, chewy Craisins.

APPLE CRAISIN MAGIC BARS

¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
¼ cup chopped Valrhona Dulceys (32% blond chocolate)
about ¾ cup flaked coconut—enough to make a generous coconut “snow” layer over the graham crumbs and butter
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup Craisins
1 small apple, diced (about 3/4 cup)–I couldn’t find my usual Macouns so I used a Smitten™ and really liked it
a bit more than ½  of a 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (SCM)
1 tablespoon bourbon to mix into the SCM (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract to mix into the SCM
sprinkle of cinnamon for the top of the pan (optional)

Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Melt butter, combine with graham cracker crumbs and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cover this layer completely with coconut, then nuts, chocolate(s), Craisins and apples. Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon over the top of the apples if you like. Stir 1 tablespoon of bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract into SCM, then pour evenly over the pan.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F . Run a knife around the outside of the pan while still warm. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Happy fall and happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with the ones you love and the ones who love you most.

Hope and Balashi

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In a wondrous act of both Yankee thrift and ingenuity, I managed to get three pumpkin recipes from a single 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree:
last week’s pumpkin apple bread
last night’s pumpkin spice caramel budino
and now, these delightful pumpkin harvest CCCs.

Using my usual CCC recipe, I added fall spices and the last bit (1/3 cup) of puree. Oh, and pecans, because they taste like fall. Of course, I threw Maker’s Mark in there, too. It seemed wrong not to.

These cookies are soft and pillowy with the addition of pumpkin–and the spices lend a tasty twist to the classic, all-American cookie. Hope you love them. We did!

PUMPKIN HARVEST CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona feves
½ cup pecans, chopped

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg, pumpkin puree, bourbon and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients in three passes. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks and pecans.

Chill dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I used an ice cream scoop to make big beauties. Space them 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven, so that’s 7 minutes up and 7 minutes down). Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.

Remove the sheets from the oven to cool a few minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Makes 22 cookies, but who’s counting?

cookie monster cookies

I hate to speak for the Cookie Monster, but since we share a birthday … I think he’d say these pumpkin harvest CCCs are AHM NOM NOM NOM!!!

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PUMPKIN SPICE CARAMEL BUDINO

It smells like fall in here! Which is a pleasant change, as it sure feels a whole lot like summer outside. But I digress. You can still climb aboard the pumpkin spice train and not heat up the house too much with this tasty budino. It’s easiest to break down in steps, so  here we go.

1. In a small bowl, whisk and set aside:
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2. In another small bowl, whisk and set aside:
3 egg yolks
Then whisk in:
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon clove
1 cardamom pod, crushed

3. In a small saucepan, combine and heat just to a simmer; then set aside:
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, scraped

4. Get ready to add at the end:
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark

5. In a separate saucepan, stir to combine over medium heat till sugar dissolves:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
Increase heat; cook without stirring for approximately four minutes, then remove from heat.

Now, here’s where we start moving quickly and combining the previous steps.

a. Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into eggs.

b. Whisk milk/eggs into milk/cornstarch.

c. Slowly whisk all the above into saucepan with caramel in it and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.

d. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark.

e. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large pitcher/mixing bowl (makes it easy to pour).

f. Pour budino into four ramekins.

g. Proceed to lick all whisks, spatulas and spoons using during the cooking process. AHM NOM NOM NOM! Or shall we do it in Italian? AHM GNAM GNAM GNAM!!!