Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Proposal Pie

I'm engaged! 

Instead of building up  to it, I decided to spare you the suspense! On October 11, Robert and I went apple picking just outside of Pittsburgh at Simmons Farm.  I was jazzed to buy baby pumpkins and pick fresh apples to bake a fall pie. Robert and I also were enjoying bona fide fall with changing orange leaves — something you don't really see where we are from in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  While we were strolling through the orchard in an empty grove where all of the apples had been picked, Robert proposed. Very sweet and simple.

When we got home, we went to dinner at a favorite neighborhood restaurant and baked an apple pie for dessert, with the apples we had picked that day, our Proposal Pie! 

Proposal Pie 
Fresh picked apple pie

This apple pie recipe is derived from this one.

8 freshly picked roma apples
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
a sprinkle of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Make crust, set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. Add in vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Place apples in the crust, and pour mixture over the apples. Place lattice or rolled out crust atop, or keep open faced.  We chose to roll out crust and cut out a heart shape with a cookie cutter.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Remove from oven, lower temperature to 350 and continue baking for about 35 to 40 minutes, until apples are soft.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Dish: What it's REALLY like to make a Cronut

The Cronut ... 

This post originally appeared on 

Photos by Robert Giglio

I made Cronuts so you don’t have to! Unless you want to, because they are delicious.

Before I get too ahead of myself about the three-day Cronut process, let me first explain the delicate, deep-fried pastry and what the fuss is all about. In 2013, New York City celebrity chef Dominique Ansel released the Cronut, his flaky croissant, fried donut hybrid. Instead of using a machine from The Fly or sorcery, Ansel created the pastry after months of toiling with butter, flour, and more butter.

And, this is one serious recipe. It has been highly sought-after due to its success, and Cronut copycats popping up across the globe from Germany to Japan.

Earlier this week, Ansel finally released the Cronut bible. The recipe for the coveted pastry is online to promote his new cookbook, “Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes.” And though his recipe is not a secret anymore, his secret is probably safe with him. Not because of how Cronuts taste, but because of the amount of effort that goes into making them. Which, let me tell you, is a lot of effort.

When I embarked on my quest to make Cronuts for HelloGiggles (I think anything longer than two days can be defined as a quest), I was excited and ready for a new culinary challenge. I am always excited to try new food and preparing new things.  But after a trip to the grocery store and looking over the recipe for a third time, this time really studying it, I felt less prepared than ever. It was like driving to a final exam. How could I possibly get all of this right?

I enlisted the help of my engineer boyfriend. While I am very add this or throw in some of that in the kitchen (the food usually turns out delicious, might I add), he is helpful when it comes to meticulousness and moral support.  I had already made the pastry dough and let it sit for three hours; now it came down to the precision of rolling it into a 10 inch square and making a seven-inch butter block — yes, this is a 7” by 7” square of pure, unadulterated butter. My boyfriend assisted, using a tape measure. It was intense.

The next day, I had to take these squares and “laminate.” That means to put the butter atop the dough (like a diamond on a square) and fold the butter inside. Now we’re making layers, people. For the first time, I realized that the flaky, thin sheets of a croissant were not made by elves. This is tedious stuff. When I told my boyfriend about the process, he said with a grin, “Respect the Cronut.” Eight layers later, the work for day two was done.

On “The Day Of” as the recipe excitedly declares, I woke up with an It’s Cronut Day feeling — kind of like Christmas morning, but way better. Because butter.

In a nutshell, “The Day Of” consisted of rolling out the dough, cutting it into doughnut shapes, proofing and frying. My boyfriend helped with the frying, popping fried Cronut holes in his mouth when he thought I wasn’t looking (I was, but who am I to judge?).

There had been multiple filling flavors to choose from, and I dangerously chose the chocolate ganache. “Dangerous,” only because I had a bowl of chocolate ganache in my fridge for two days that I wasn’t allowed to touch. It was a triumph of will. When I finally stole a finger scoop, it was beyond incredible. I injected the donuts with the filling, getting more and more excited with each one. Then, I rolled the sides in my hand-tossed vanilla bean sugar (there had also been several sugar and glaze options to choose from). Lastly, I dipped the donuts in the chocolate glaze.

I looked at my masterpiece sitting on the tray. A dozen perfect Cronuts with 96 flaky layers, after three days of laboring. These were my Cronut babies and they were beautiful. In fact, before I ate one, I just admired the sheets of fried dough and took in the heavenly smell of vanilla and chocolate. . .and fry oil. This had been my Everest and I was on top. I MADE CRONUTS.

The hard work felt worth it.

And it was.

These bad boys (or girls) were delectable. Which really shouldn’t be surprising considering the name. After all, a Cronut is a butter-y croissant, cut and fried like a donut in sweet, sweet glaze. What’s not to love?

This post originally appeared on 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Beer Cupcakes

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes 
With Cream Cheese Frosting

These boozy babes first appeared here on

It's Fall, Y'all!!!

Have Mercy! 

What you’ll need! 

• 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour, half all-purpose, half cake (I proportioned it 1 ¼ Cake Flour and 1 ½ all purpose)

• 4 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good.

• 3 eggs

• 1 ½ cups sugar

• About 14 oz of pumpkin puree, I used about 3/4 of a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree

• 1/4 cup milk

• 3/4 cup pumpkin ale

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• Fall spices: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cardamom, ½ teaspoon clove, ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Let’s get baking … 

Combine dry ingredients and spices, set aside.

Combine milk and pumpkin ale in one bowl, set aside.

Cream sugar and eggs. Blend in extract. Mix in Pumpkin. Add dry ingredients alternating with milk/ale mixture.

Stir until combined, try not to over mix.

Bake in lined muffin pan for about 20 minutes at 350 F.

Now for the cream cheese frosting … 

• 1/2 cup butter, one stick, softened

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 1 tbs almond extract, vanilla is OK

• 2 cups powdered sugar

Mix it all together!


Photos by Robert Giglio
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