As much as I love pumpkin, fall-themed treats are a close second. Good thing pumpkin is is the leading star in most of those goodies. I am, and will always be, a chocolate lover. Obviously. I am obsessed with the holidays and have always loved making Christmas fudge each year.
But this? A whole new level of yum.
This has become my post-Halloween-all-of-fall ritual. It’s perfect for sharing. Not like I could eat a whole pan of this on my own. Well, I could. I am so thankful for a boyfriend who is the best taste tester. He will eat all the fudge so I don’t have to.
This combines my two great loves. Who doesn’t love fudge? Not this girl. I happen to know some awesome people who also love this fudge. They live a glamourous New York City life and totally put up with my craziness for a few years. So I repay them in fudge.
Fudge is really simple to make and some versions are more finicky than others. This is one of those versions. It takes no more than 30 minutes to make, but following the directions is key. But if all goes according to plan, you will be the hero of the Turkey Day treat contest. Don’t we all aspire to that?
pumpkin + marshmallow fluff. Let the magic begin
As I’ve mentioned before, pumpkin and I have this thing. We are involved. And it’s the greatest thing in life. And as promised, here is the first of many pumpkin-themed recipes. And I realize October is pretty much over, but never fear. I will be making pumpkin-flavored goodies well into 2013.
I’m kind jumping on the cookie bandwagon, thanks to those special people in my life who can not live without them. But pumpkin cookies are definitely the wagon I choose to be on. Everyone get on board because these little yummies are amazing.
I had never made snickerdoodles before but I always heard they were one of the easiest cookies to make. This part is totally true. I’m going to let you in on a secret: adding pumpkin to this fall baking treat is pretty amazing. So amazing. It’s true. Because of the nature of pumpkin and the fact that snickerdoodles are meant to be fluffy and delicious, these cookies are like eating a cookie cake. So soft, so perfect. A perfect compliment to some mulled wine. I haven’t gotten there yet, but don’t worry. I will. I most definitely will.
You know it is Fall is when the temperature dips just below summer swampiness, and even though it is is still 70 degrees outside, you totally want to bundle up in blankets. I am often cold and this is the time when sweatpants, sweaters, and blankets come out of retirement and maintain a permanent vision on my couch. One of the best things about living in DC is that Fall means no more summer humidity and nostalgic autumn activities. Like apple picking. I grew up with a New England loving mom, who raised us with lots of New England traditions, something I absolutely love. The few years that I spent living in Massachusetts were spent in the typical seasonal fashion: pumpkin and apple picking, cutting down our Christmas Tree, summer camp, and sailing. I am somewhat of an afficiando of nostalgic activities. When the time has come for apple picking and I live in a big city right in the middle of farm country, I fully support the idea of roadtripping. Alright, so it was totally my idea, but coming back with 15 pounds of apples? Always a good idea.
I’ve been dying to make apple butter ever since I read about the long process from Felicity in The American Girls. Fascinated with history when I was little, I always thought I was born in the wrong century. But then I grew up and developed an early disdain for dresses so I think my own century is just fine. I spent field trips visiting the living history villages and always loved the old fashioned methods for getting work done. It always seemed so cool to churn butter and slave all day in the kitchen making something amazing. But I still love my standing mixer. Of course.
I have so much love for bananas. They are the secret weapon to prevent my leg from going numb when rowing. Fight off cramps when swimming really far for a long time. Today, it’s all about bananas. Yep. I love em. And I totally feel for them. It seems like they might almost get more love when they are overly ripe and browning up all over. That is a sure sign that it is time to make banana bread. It’s not that I buy bananas just so they will get brown and I can make banana bread (but actually, that is often what happens). So, bananas, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for letting you sit on the counter until you are ready to be mashed up into banana goo, thrown into the mixer, and made even better with cinnamon. But just know, that no matter what form you are in, I will always love you. Forever and always.
Another thing I love? This stuff.
Seriously. Ever since I discovered this slathered in a crepe while walking along the Champs–Élysées, Christmas 2009, I have been in love. Nutella and banana just go together. They make so much sense. Can I be a kid for just right now and eat nutella with my spoon? And while we’re at it, peanut butter and cookie butter too? Cause I’ve never done that before. But this bread has totally happened and it is so happening again. Another awesome thing? This is probably the healthiest banana bread you will ever eat for 2 reasons: 1. no butter. 2. no oil. I love me some butter, in all forms. But today is banana’s day. And trust me, friends. It’s like super-secret guilty pleasure cake-bread. But it’s actually super-secret healthy bread. Plus Nutella. BLAM! Your welcome. Please go show your love for bananas. For all they have done for you in curing those aches and pains, it’s time to love them back.
Nutella Swirl Banana Bread Recipe
*makes 1 9×4 loaf
3 ripe bananas
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup applesauce
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
¼ cup of nutella
cinnamon sugar (optional)
- preheat oven to 325 degrees F, lightly oil/butter a loaf pan
- mash the bananas in a bowl and set to the side
- add sugar, applesauce, eggs, mix together, being careful not to whip them. Slowly add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mix all ingredients until fully incorporated. Fold in bananas with a spatula.
- Pour half the batter into a loaf pan. Scoop half the nutella onto a fork and drizzle over batter, then swirl into pan, using a figure 8 motion. Add remaining batter and remaining nutella and repeat process.
- Using fork, swirl nutella into entire pan.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes.
- sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, as soon as loaf is removed from oven.
I love pumpkin. Which is probably the reason I love fall. Not as much as I love summer, obviously, but it’s definitely a close second. A very close second. But do I love pumpkin because I love fall? Or do I love fall because I love pumpkin. The world may never know. Although, my closest friends probably already do. You probably can get some sense of the answer to that mystery too. Especially given the photographic evidence below. The mystery is even more intriguing since the debate is still out on whether pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable. Either way, it is delicious and I am in love.
The first baked good that breaks into pumpkin season has got to be pumpkin bread. Having your whole apartment smell like pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg? Yeah, it’s as amazing as it sounds. And my pumpkin bread is just that — AMAZING. I love my pumpkin bread because it is the first recipe that is totally, 100% my own. As in, original creation from square one. No help from anyone (well, except for my fabulous taste testers). It is my first born. And yes, I play favorites. I definitely hold that recipe close to my heart, and am not quite ready to share it with the whole world. But if you want to come over, I will gladly make it for you. And you can even take some home!
But don’t be sad. I fully intend on presenting many, many other pumpkin delicacies. I love pumpkin so much that my kitchen stash will last well into December. And if it doesn’t I will definitely replenish it. I have even been known to make pumpkin bread in March or April. Yes, I love it so much. And just because I love Fall doesn’t mean ice cream isn’t present in my “super healthy” diet. Helllloo? Pumpkin ice cream! Yes, it’s true. So basically, I love pumpkin. Stay tuned for yummy concoctions featuring my most favorite fruit/vegetable.