momofuku milk bar exam no. 9 {carrot layer cake}

carrotlayercake1

Oh, I’ve missed y’all so much.

I have been slacking in the blogging, I know… it’s been for valid reasons if that makes it any better (it doesn’t). All great excuses: the Met Gala (!!!), moving office spaces, and being the maid of honor at my friend Rebecca’s wedding. But my priorities are back in order now and the Momofuku Milk Bar Exams are back on! Which is great because this recipe is a true showstopper.

carrotlayercake2

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pumpkin mousse parfaits

hello November!

So far November in New York has been, to put it kindly… a bitch. First, we welcomed the month with Hurricane Sandy aka Frankenstorm and then Athena the Nor’easter brought an onslaught of our first snow this year. I don’t mean it lightly when I say I feel incredibly grateful and lucky to have been safe and warm.

To anyone who still needs a warm place to stay or electricity or pumpkin parfaits… this is for you.

This dessert requires no baking and is super easy to put together. I was skeptical about the pumpkin-orange mousse but I think my final verdict is… I like it? I only added 1 teaspoon of orange zest instead of 2 and that was plenty. Next time, I may reduce the whipped cream to 1 cup as well for a more intense pumpkin-y flavor.

I think this is perfect for the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s a nice variation on pumpkin pie and feels deceptively light (despite the copious amounts of heavy cream. I’m so evil.). I took these adorable parfaits to my friend Emily’s party and they were quite popular. Make sure not to make them too big as these little things are richer than they appear.

{my favorite part}

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{cute tiger ginger cookies}

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{parfait assembly line}

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Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 packet (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 (15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetened whipped cream (recipe followed)
  • ½ cup crumbled ginger cookies

1)    Place the water in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes for the gelatin to soften.
2)    In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
3)    Set the bowl of gelatin over a small pot of simmering water and cook until the gelatin is clear. Immediately whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.
4)    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.
5)    To assemble, spoon some of the pumpkin mixture into parfait glasses, add a layer of whipped cream, then some chopped cookies. Repeat, ending with a third layer of pumpkin.
6)    Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, decorate with whipped cream and some more crumbles of ginger cookies.

Sweetened whipped cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1)    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until firm peaks form. Use to layer and decorate the parfaits.

Makes 8-10 servings

rise and shine!

Yes, we all know it’s ‘the most important meal of the day’ but… do you eat breakfast?

I admit that for a long time, I did not. Mostly because I am not much of a morning person. Still not. When I did start eating breakfast, it was more like, grab a Special K bar before heading out the door. Even now, I’m not a huge breakfast fan unless it involves my sister’s oatmeal pancakes or a nice crab cakes benedict (anything with poached eggs really).

The issue with breakfast is I want something that’s energizing, not too filling, and of course yummy. These days, my very fancy breakfast usually consists of anything that’s easy to grab-and-go like these oatmeal applesauce blueberry muffins (which I waxed poetics about in my NY Diet). These muffins are the perfect on-the-go, nutritious breakfast. Seriously, I love these. I even eat them as a sweet treat after dinner. Bake a batch over the weekend then refrigerate them so you’ll be sure to have breakfast all during the week… if they last that long.

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins
adapted from Joy the Baker 

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¼ cups oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup low-fat buttermilk (I used soymilk)
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

(1)  Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
(2)  In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
(3)  In a medium bowl whisk together the applesauce, milk, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla.
(4)  Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. As with most batters, it’s better to not overmix; a few lumps of flour are fine.
(5)  Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (about ¼ cup).
(6)  Bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before taking out and cooling on a wire cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins

Autumn in New York

No, I’m not talking about that terribly sappy movie with Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Though, I could never really bad-mouth Winona as Little Women has been, since 5th grade, my go-to rainy day movie.

Conservatory Water in Central Park

Actually, the origins of my last name Choo (추) mean ‘Autumn’ or at least that’s what my mom has always told me. Regardless, I like to think that’s why I have such an endearment for the fall season. I love watching the weather cool down, the leaves change colors and the consumption of any and all fall desserts. Treats that incorporate the bounties of fall like apples, cranberries and of course… pumpkin!

This past week, one of my roommates made these delicious pumpkin chocolate chip & pecan cookies. They were so perfect for the crisp fall weather. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me she got it off this site skinnytaste.com. wait WHAT?! these cookies are delectable AND low fat?? Praise the pumpkin gods!

I decided to make a batch of these deceptively delicious cookies for my workplace, which seems to be riddled with all things mini-cupcaked and fun-sized. The only adjustment I made was to omit the pecans cause I’m not a huge fan of them (who eats pecan pie without the pecans?… guilty.)

Just check out the step-by-step photos for these Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 then ADD…

 math can be so fun.

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (low fat)
adapted from skinnytaste.com

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans (optional)

(1)     Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
(2)     In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice and cinnamon.
(3)     In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed.
(4)     Add the egg, followed by the pumpkin and vanilla extract.
(5)     Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips.
(6)     Drop 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.
(7)     Cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 32 cookies, 1 tablespoon each

These were such a hit at work! not a crumb left in sight (unfortunately). I HIGHLY recommend making them. like NOW.