You guys, this comic right here is my whole life right now. It’s been circling the interwebs for a few years now, but I’m really feeling it this week. I could elaborate on the latest sads, but I’d rather just direct you to that beautiful, powerful, perfect comic. Even if you don’t come back here– though, um, please come back, we have sweets– please read that lovely piece of work.
Today’s post is going to be short, because maaaaaaaaan do I have a lot to think about thanks to good old Bill Watterson, and also because this is such. an easy. recipe. I actually whipped it up this morning while waiting for my tortillas to warm up (breakfast tacos FTW!). Let’s say you’ve got a whole lot of pumpkin laying around and you don’t feel like going the pie route, or you just don’t have the time to melt chocolate for pumpkin cups, or you just… really like dips. All good man, I love everything (except Stamos and mint in my desserts). Oh, or you’re having a Halloween party and need to feed a crowd, because you’re a cool person who has parties and hey, I’m delightful at parties. I bring pumpkin dip!
Pumpkin Dip (makes a big old bowl)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mini chocolate chips, for garnish
Cocoa powder, for garnish
Okay, ready? In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a wooden spoon, mix together pumpkin puree, cinnamon and brown sugar until combined. Add in cheeses and blend until fully incorporated, then whisk in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract until you’ve got your dip. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and dust with cocoa powder, if desired, then chill until ready to serve.
Wait… that’s it?
Yeah dudes! Easiest dessert ever! In terms of stuff to dip into it, fingers are a good option, as long as they are yours or those of someone you trust and are definitely attached to working hands…though Halloween is approaching, and who am I, really, to judge you and your parties, cool people of the web? I actually threw some leftover pie dough into the waffle iron on a whim and ended up enjoying these as mini pumpkin pie bites, but pita chips, cookies or fancy crackers would be yummy, too.
I know, I know… these are regular chocolate chips, but *someone* ate all the minis in the pantry so I had to make do.
This is so easy, so fast, so yummy, and perfectly party-appropriate. I’ll prove it at your next shindig, which I’m totally invited to, right?
And no, I did *not* make my birthday cake this year. Though I have made rainbow cookies in the past, I decided to take a break from baking for myself this year. Also, my boyfriend strictly forbade me from doing so, because he’s nice, and also because I think last year I got a little scary whilst making this delicious monstrosity.
How was the birthday overall? Bittersweet might be the best word. Sweet because, well, see above, bitter because well, see me. But as I’ve heard time and again, thirty is weird. When I was ten, thirty seemed like *it.* It was the age when I’d have everything down pat, when I’d be acting opposite Mark-Paul Gosselaar in a hit feature film (nope, not elaborating), when I’d be poppin’ out perfect babies and livin’ phat in the hills. Which hills, I do not know. The Beverly ones seemed interesting, because OH HAYYYYY Dylan McKay. It should be noted that when I was ten, I had trouble separating television from reality. That may or may not still be the case.
Instead, thirty feels like the age where an invisible hand decided to hold a mirror up to my life, and DAMN. DAMN DAMN DAMN has it been hard to look. Of course, if it’s not obvious, I do feel lucky. Lucky that I’m still able to write and bake, lucky that I’m working, lucky that I’ve got some love in my life, lucky that I still have a few folks I can count on to whine and wine and dine with. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not taking this particular birthday as well as past ones, for various reasons. Maybe that’s necessary. Reflection is hard, but I’m hoping to come out of this funk feeling wiser, stronger and healthier.
Speaking of healthy, this dessert is anything but. BUT! It’s got pumpkin, you fall freaks! (I, too, am one of these. No shame, friends). Also, it’s no-bake, for all of my I-CANNOT-BAKE-FOR-SHIZ homies. Let’s do this!
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups (makes 12 big cups or 24 mini cups)
1 15-ounce can of pureed pumpkin*
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of mascarpone
1 cup of natural unsweeted salted peanut butter
3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar, more if you’d like the peanut butter portion sweeter
3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips/chunks/chocolate chopped into small pieces, melted and kept warm
Set aside either a 12-cup muffin tin or 24-cup mini muffin tin, and line the tin with cupcake wrappers.
Also, before we start, and before people start yelling at me over that article we all saw claiming canned pumpkin wasn’t real pumpkin… IT ABSOLUTELY IS. Snopes for the win!
In a medium-sized bowl, using a stand mixer on high speed, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar and cinnamon. Beat in the mascarpone until fully incorporated, and set aside.
In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar, adding more sugar to taste if you like it a bit sweeter.
Now, you can either just totally go crazy and combine your pumpkin and peanut butter mixtures full-on, OR, if you favor one flavor over another, add a bit of one mixture to the other until you’re happy with the taste. Really, you cannot go wrong, and if you have extra of one or both mixtures, they’re INCREDIBLE with french toast, waffles, or just totally naked. Originally, my plan was to have this be heavily-PB with a hint of pumpkin, but every time I brought a spoonful to Jimmy, he’d ask for more pumpkin. I finally settled on the measurements above, which will give you a perfectly balanced peanut buttery and pumpkin-y cup. Set aside this mixture for now.
To assemble your cups, coat each cupcake wrapper with a thin layer of chocolate. If you’re using full-sized cups, I’ve found it’s easiest to use a small rubber spatula to coat the bottom and sides. If you’re using mini cups, the back of a teaspoon is better. You want the bottoms and sides of your liners to be completely opaque with chocolate, but not terribly thick.
Once you’ve coated all liners, refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened, place even scoops of pumpkin-peanut butter mixture into each cup.I made regular-sized cups and added a heaping tablespoon and a half to each cup. Cover each cup with more chocolate, and chill in the refrigerator again for at least fifteen more minutes, until the cups have hardened. Let them sit in room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
So I figured I might as well continue the tradition of absolute junk at all possible hours of the day, so these were enjoyed at breakfast. Pumpkin’s a fruit, peanut butter has protein, I am woefully under-educated about nutrition and will do anything I can to justify my sugar intake, you get how it is.
But how were they? They. Were. Perfection. My lazy ass also loved how quickly these cups went from being a mere rumble in my belly/twinkle in my brain to being actual, delectable desserts. These were fast, easy, and SO AUTUMN, you guys. MUST MAKE!
Yep, not even going to try and excuse it. I’ve been away from this blog for six months. How do I feel about it? Not sure. A few [very, very lovely and kind] people asked me WTF was going on, and if I was ever going to start writing again. These same people know that the “I’m so busy” excuse was total horseshit, because all I ever talk about with them is all the high-quality British programming Netflix has gifted my writing-averse ass.
So, I talk a lot about depression and anxiety on this blog, and, as the title pretty much spells out, I’m hitting what some might consider a milestone birthday soon. I’ve never been a person who’s been terribly concerned with getting older… until now. I mean, the time around my birthday has always depressed me a little– changing weather, the passage of time, the new Fall lineup that inevitably disappoints because NONE OF THE SHOWS STAR KYLE CHANDLER. But I haven’t really started to feel the gut-punch that comes with aging until this year, probably because lots of people I don’t know very well are weirdly concerned with the fact that dowries have not yet been exchanged for rings, (or however that works nowadays), or that I’m not swimming in dough, or that I still have a very legitimate beef with a certain celebrity who shall not be named in this already-sad post.
It seems I’m not the only one feeling this way, either. Thirty hits everyone differently, and for me, it’s certainly not just the whole strangers-be-getting-into-my-personals thing getting to me. There are so many things I figured I’d be doing with myself at this age, and Christmas on a Triscuit was I wrong about all of them. That’s a tough gummy to swallow (guys I love gummy vitamins, please no millienial jokes, gummy vitamins are one of the sole gifts from the heavens I get, just let me have this one). Shout out to all the 1986-ers feelin’ what I’m feelin’– I’m here, I get it, and I have pie.
…IT’S STILL A BAKING BLOG, PEOPLE!
So I was incredibly skeptical of the very idea for this pie when I first read about it, but like most things in my life right now, I decided to throw my side-eye to the wind and get on with things. Plus, it’s fall, and fall means pears and pie (I know, I know, and pumpkin, which you’ll see very soon).
1/2 cup of seedless Thomcord or Concord grapes, removed from stems
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
Raw or white sugar for dusting
Now I’m not saying this because I am lazy, but because I am laughably bad at doing this by hand: bust out the food processor if you have it for your pie crusts. If you don’t have one, get one, and if you can’t, I will walk you through the process of doing this by hand as best I can. If you do have a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar until mixed. Then add in your butter and pulse until you’ve got pea-sized lumps. Now, with the processor running, pour in your egg mixture and allow it to run until your dough forms.
If you’re working without a food processor, sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, then use a fork or your fingers to gently mix in the butter. You want to handle the butter as little as possible, since the more you handle it, the warmer it will get, and the warmer your butter, the less flaky your crusts. Once your mixture is pretty clumpy, add in the egg and gently mix in using your fingers until you’re able to form a dough. Separate into two evenly-sized discs, cover in plastic wrap and chill discs for at least two hours.
Once you’re ready to get baking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place pears and grapes together in a bowl. Sift the sugar and cornstarch together and then fold into fruit mixture until evenly coated.
Roll out one disc to about 1/8″ thickness and gently line your pie plate with it. Pour your fruit mixture into the shell and set aside while working on the top crust. (If you’re not interested in anything fancy, just roll out your second disc and place on top of the fruit mixture, cutting any extra dough off the sides of the plate. Make sure to cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.) I rolled out the second disc of dough and used a star-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top of the pie. I invite you to do the same and lay your decorative dough however you please, but just make sure to leave some space for the fruit to peek through, or your pie will explode all over your oven, and you will be doomed forever. Brush with egg and then sprinkle the top generously with sugar.
Place your pie on a baking sheet (this will allow for easier removal from the oven, unless you want crazy knuckle burns similar to the ones I’m currently rocking), then bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through. Then, turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is browned and the fruit is bubbly, like this:
Let the pie cool on a counter for a solid half hour, at least, and then dig in, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream or a spoonful of mascarpone if you’re feeling it.
Aw man, am I proud of how beautiful this pie ended up being. This is probably my proudest pie-related moment, and I have a LOT of pie-related moments. But hey, it’s not ALL about looks: how did it taste?
O M G. It was incredible. The grapes and pears worked better than I could have imagined they would, and the cornstarch helped keep the filling from running amok outside of the crust. It was as close to heaven as a crazy old grump like me will likely ever experience.
But how do YOU know I wasn’t on a crime-fighting spree, or a long holiday, or in prison because I got caught during an unsanctioned crime-fighting spree?
We’ve been watching a lot of Daredevil. And I caught the new Batman/Superman epic. So pretty much I’m now convinced I could very easily become the superhero no one really wants, but probably deserves. Sad Shibow: the clunkily-named, oft-depressed baker with astonishingly terrible reflexes, an unhealthy love of [street] justice, and a tendency to totally neglect her blog.
But YOU try spilling your figurative innards for an online audience! It’s very exhausting, sometimes fun, extremely scary, and mostly I’m over it. That’s right! It is time to dial back the sadsies in favor of coming up with new and interesting ways to take down the corrupt, infuriating, totally useless MTA with my subpar fight methods and devastating verbal takedowns.
Whoops. That’s for a different blog entirely. Anyhoo, let’s really real talk: I completely blanked on the five year anniversary of this blog, which was a week ago. And as much as I hate to admit this, I really would not have remembered it without Facebook Memories, which I think is a function that mostly blows but proved somewhat useful in this case. It lit a fire under my brown tush, a fire it badly needed as it has been unseasonably nippy and my butt is usually the first thing to get cold. This is all relevant, I promise. Maybe not the butt stuff so much, but we can’t very well go back now, can we?
Anyway, a couple of months ago, Something Happened. It’s dumb to be vague, but I’m still working through it. One little baby thread on a very large and poorly made sweater was pulled, and the whole damned POS came undone, pretty quickly, too. I went through a period where I questioned my talents as a writer and wondered if I should just shut this blog down, because it’s exhausting to talk about money probz and why Stamos is still popular (TWO shows?! You give him TWO, cruel world?!), and I wasn’t really baking very much anyway. I also questioned what I do for a living, my hair, my life choices, the way I freaking made eggs, and even–steady yourselves– whether or not Road House was a legitimately good film (I know, you guys, I know. OF COURSE IT IS.) So, yeah, I was totally in a solid place mentally, which is essentially why I avoided writing or baking or doing anything I loved: it felt a little pointless. The big questions were “Do I want to be doing this?” And, more importantly, “Is there room for me in a world that gives John Stamos two shows?”
This blog is going to be going through a bit of an evolution, because if Daredevil has taught me anything, it’s this: adapt and get yourself a new, badass, almost indestructible superhero suit or die. So, today, to both celebrate the past FIVE wonderful, tumultuous, fun, funny, ridiculous years of this blog and hopefully toast to an equally interesting future, let me catch you up on the past few months, while hoping you’ll all join me for more nonsense in the future:
(Also, look guys! I made babka and Kouign-Amann, and both were very complicated and very buttery and involved a lot of layering and twisting which required more upper body strength than I’d ever expect for something you’re just going to gorge on in your apartment while binge Netflixing. But they’re PRETTY, no?)
It’s been, as the kids say, a minute. Or, as this overgrown baby would say, it’s been a freaking month, Sad Shibow, you swine.
Blue period. I don’t know what else to say, guys. There are entire weeks where I cannot handle bad combos of bad badness, or even meh mehness, or sometimes, just, you know, days in general. The holidays are hard as it is, and much of the past month could be described as “baby steps halfway up the mountain, then Donkey Kong comes out of nowhere and kicks my brown butt all the way back down to the sharp, rocky bottom.” That’s about as good as it’s going to get in terms of articulating this latest awesome sad segment. Maybe this time the magic mixture for my Crap Pie was 1 part holidays, 2 parts weather, 4 parts financial probz, 3 parts friend/family bull, and equal parts David Bowie isn’t here anymore and Trump is still talking. All of these things combined to create a great disturbance in the force.
Speaking of The Force… who saw The Force Awakens?? I SURE DID, the day it came out, and I’ve got the videotape to prove it! That’s right, folks, Sad Shibow was on the ol’ picture box, being a total nerd. And for those of you wondering why I look so spaced, a. I HAD JUST SEEN THE FORCE AWAKENS YOU JUDGMENTAL BUBS! and b. I’d had many many drinks of the bourbon nature the night before and was still recovering. Also, if you happened to see me commuting home that night, drunkenly air-drumming to Bollywood tunes alone on the F train and holding back tears (because hammered Shibow is SAD Shibow), I’m sorry. Also also, if you have film evidence of these happenings, I will pay handsomely to keep it under wraps. Just kidding. I’m broke, you all know this. But we can have a viewing party at my place if you’re in the market for a new friend. I know I could always use a new homie.
So how were all of your holidays, if you celebrate such things? Mine were simple and quiet, just how I like them, and made so much happier by…
Those of you who know me IRL know how much I love, love, love Robicelli’s Bakery, a friggin’ boss sweet shop that just recently closed its Brooklyn post. While I was at work one day, Jimmy snuck off to Bay Ridge (which is a TREK for those of us without a car, guys) to get Allison Robicelli to sign my copy of the Robicelli’s cookbook, mere days before the bakery closed. How wonderful is this? Is he?! And even though the clouds haven’t exactly lifted over the House of Shibow, every time I crack that book open and read Allison’s wonderful, profanity-laden note and think about what a pain in the ass it is to ride the local R a bajillion stops and how impatient Jimmy is with our transit system anyway, I remember: I am loved. And when you’re sad and wondering if most of the people you used to know hate you or if you’ll ever find your way in the world or if you’ll ever learn to contour your face properly like those Youtube geniuses, feeling loved matters.
Speaking of feeling loved, how often does a stellar chocolate chip cookie make you feel cared for and happy? What, you say it’s unhealthy to eat feelings? You say it’s abnormal to feel strong emotions for a cookie? Have you never had a Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip cookie before? The self-proclaimed “Mr. Chocolate” found his way into my probably-clogged heart one day while I was on my lunch break and looking for a nearby, temporary panacea for whatever blues I was experiencing at that moment. I found such a cure at the Jacques Torres shop at Grand Central Station, and direct everyone I know who is feeling happy, sad, hungry, or anything at all to said shop’s chocolate chip cookie. Big as your face and probably just as delicious (you hottie, you), these cookies will solve all of your problems, as long as your problems are that you need cookies. And, if you unfortunately don’t live near a location, or will be trapped at home during Snowmageddon 2016, here is the recipe of your dreams, people.
Jacques Torres’ Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 15 cookies)
4 cups of bittersweet chocolate discs (I used these which are pricey but the real deal and absolutely worth it, but use any discs you’re comfortable with– each is about the size of an American quarter)
Coarse sea salt, for garnish
In a medium-sized bowl, sift together your flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth and pale yellow in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed, then stir in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing just until combined, about 10 seconds.
Carefully fold chocolate discs into dough (I use a rubber spatula and go slowly to prevent breaking the discs). Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly against the dough, and refrigerate for at least 3 and preferably 8 hours. You can also freeze the dough at this point for up to a month, but if I know there is cookie dough nearby I shamelessly use it/eat it. Yes, raw. I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL DAMMIT.
Once chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 5 fist-sized mounds onto each sheet, about 3 inches apart (you will likely need to use one sheet twice, as we’re making 15 cookies and…math). Lightly garnish with coarse sea salt and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookie’s edges should be lightly browned and the centers should still be soft. Cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat until all cookies are baked.
So… I don’t really want to talk about these.
I kind of just want to keep showing them to you.
They are, by far, my new favorite Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I have been spoiled. There is no going back from this.