Chat Leftovers: Reader-to-Reader Assists
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There wasn't just a big pile of leftover questions in this week's What's Cooking queue; there were reader tips galore, random acts of online kindness that keep this chat going strong, now nearly 10 years old.
Natural food coloring: You can find them on the web, but they're more expensive. Here's one source.
Mashed 'Taters for company: Make your mashed potatoes ahead and keep them warm in a crockpot on low. Works great, and keeps oven space for something else.
Cupcake Recipe: For the reader looking for a cupcake recipe with cream cheese icing, try this one from Ina Garten. It's a fairly basic white cake, but really moist because of the sour cream. So good that even the dog stole some.
From Madera, Calif., the recipe for her much-discussed pumpkin cookies and why they won’t store well:
2 cups pumpkin
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup oil or use 1 cup applesauce (I use applesauce to help cut the fat )
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 8 ounce block cream cheese
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the flour and all spices, and mix well. Dough will be VERY loose...you're gonna think that you need more flour, but resist the urge to add more. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and use a 1 tablespoon cookie dough baller to drop dough onto sheets. Bake for +/- 15 minutes, or until slightly firm. Cool completely. I leave cookies on the parchment paper until they are cool, and have a second set of parchment lined cookie sheets ready to go for the next round of baking.
Gob Filling: mix all ingredients together. Take two gobs, placing the icing on one gob and placing other half on top.
Makes three dozen gobs.
Now, if you recall, Madera reported the following dilemma:
Gobs do not hold up well overnight/in the fridge. The top of the cookie gets very sticky, and aren't so much fun to eat. Best to make the day that you're going to eat them.
Some thoughts: Although a nice fat replacer, the applesauce will definitely contribute to the sticky ickies, as you’re adding moisture. I agree with the reader who suggested draining the pumpkin puree before using. Ah, now that I can see the recipe, two cups of brown sugar could be the culprit! Essentially, brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses, which contains water, which lends more moisture. And two cups of all that moisture, methinks, is what’s causing you to have sticky sweets. Here’s a great explainer on the science of brown sugar:
Here’s what I propose: Try reducing total sugar to 1 ½ cups, then split that between granulated and brown sugar -- ¾ cup each. That, my dear Watson, may solve the mystery. And re: the frosting: Try reducing the amount of confectioners' sugar by half as well, just for kicks. I think you'll find the results still sweet but keep you from falling into a sugar coma.
McLean, Va.: Your Meatless Monday blog post reminded me of the sweet potato recipe you often link to that includes curry (I think) and coconut milk (I know). Could you link to it again -- I have a craving for sweet potatoes and I'm not a huge soup fan.
Oh yes, this one is a goodie – even Mister MA, who claims not to like sweet potatoes, lapped these up last year at Thanksgiving.
The recipe, from Martha Stewart mag, is just right for Maryland, who writes: My father, along with a few other guests are diabetic and can eat sweet potatoes but not with all of the sugary sweetness that usually goes along with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We all love "heat."
(By the way, Maryland, I’ve got an extra copy of the new “Betty Crocker 30 Minute Meals for Diabetes,“ if you’re interested. E-mail me at email@example.com with your or your father’s mailing info, and I’ll send it pronto.)
And another thing -- from our friend in McLean, Va:
Re: Halloween -- Years ago (back when I had my fantastic 21-year-old figure) I donned a blue unitard with clumps of cotton balls glued to it. I was partly cloudy. I think this year I want to be Julia Child. I'm going to buy huge platform shoes, wear slacks, carry around a bottle of wine and secretly take notes about all the people at the party. (Obviously I'm shooting for her spy era.)
I love this! Is anyone else going as a food celebrity this year? A pair of baggy Bermuda shorts and orange Crocs will get you on your way to a Mario Batali costume...
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