Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

It’s a difficult thing to admit, but: Jay doesn’t have a sweet tooth. He didn’t even eat fruit when I first moved in, several years ago, and would turn his nose up at sugary vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and winter squash. While creamy custards and ice cream make me weak in the knees, he can take or leave them, passing them up any day for a bag of salty chips or a plate of greasy french fries.

Every so often, though, I catch a gleam of enthusiasm for some childhood classic: pumpkin pie, butterscotch ice cream, tapioca pudding, the old standbys we all enjoy as children. During a muffin phase a few years back, Jay spoke lovingly of pumpkin cheesecake ones he used to get from Rebecca’s Mighty Muffins in Santa Cruz during his college days. I looked around for recipes, but didn’t find anything that seemed quite right. I wanted a sturdy, not-too-sweet muffin made with butter rather than vegetable oil, redolent with the flavors of brown sugar and warming spices. I wanted a smooth, creamy filling with the salty tang of cheesecake, and plenty of it, so that you got some in each bite. Quite pleased with the results, Jay even set aside the chips to devour a few.
The first real rain of the season has brought on a desperation to bake with winter squash, so I decided to make these muffins, but I made a few changes from my original recipe, browning the butter, adding freshly grated ginger to the cheesecake mixture and toasted pecans to the muffin batter. They are delicious, but, I don’t know, I kind of prefer the plain-Jane originals. So here’s the original recipe, with the ginger-pecan variation at the end.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
You can use any dense fleshed winter squash for this recipe. I actually don’t favor pumpkins for baking, as they tend to be stringy, watery and bland. This time, I used an incredibly dense-fleshed red kuri squash, but kabochas, hokkaidos and butternuts are other excellent choices. If your squash puree is watery, or if you use canned pumpkin (which is fine), drain it for about 3o minutes in a fine mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth if necessary.
For the squash puree, preheat the oven to 375º. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Using a large, sharp chef’s knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Leaving the seeds in (they are much easier to scrape out once the squash is cooked, and also add flavor and moisture to it during baking) place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender when poked with a knife. Let cool. Scrape out the seeds and discard, and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Puree in a food processor or food mill until smooth.
For the cheesecake filling:
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add yolk, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla and salt to combine throughly. Put in fridge while you get on with the muffins.
Pumpkin Muffins:
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup squash puree, or canned pumpkin
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup packed brown or unrefined sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 eggs
2 cups flour (I use equal parts whole and white spelt)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners (does that sound a bit dirty, or is it just me?) In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, squash puree, buttermilk, sugar, molasses and eggs to combine. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Make a well, and gently fold in the wets until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the cups.
Now comes the fun part, and there are two possible ways to go about it. You can either use the back of a spoon to make a small well in the center of each muffin, and spoon the cheesecake filling in. Or use a piping bag fitted with a smallish, plain tip (or a plastic baggie which you will snip the corner off of) and fill with the cream cheese mixture. Plunge the tip into the center of the muffin, and gently squeeze out a couple tablespoons. The muffin will puff up. Repeat with the remaining muffins until you have used up all the filling.
Bake the muffins on the center rack until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.
Variation: Brown-butter pecan pumpkin muffins with ginger cheesecake filling
Follow the above directions, making the following changes:
Add 1-2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger to the cheesecake filling.

For the muffins, brown the butter by cooking it over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it browns, smells nutty and makes you swoon with olfactory pleasure. Let cool to warm.

For the spices, substitute the following, omitting the allspice:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Toast 3/4 pecans, let cool, and chop coarsely. Gently fold in after combining the wets and dries.

Chocolate Granola

One night, like many before me, I got hooked. Molly Wizenberg’s exquisite blog, Orangette, sucked me in with her crack-like writing, spare photography and mouthwatering recipes. Guided there by rave reviews of a chocolate granola recipe, I sifted through her blog for hours, unable to pry my eyes away from her addictive writing style, driven by a lust for chocolate granola. I envisioned something like what you see above, baked granola coated in chocolate, but figured the recipe had to be something really innovative to garner such attention. But when I finally came upon the recipe, at around 4am, I felt a bit disappointed at the image that greeted me: plain granola with chunks of chocolate mixed in. I could have come up with that.

So this is my take on what “chocolate granola” ought to be: buttery, toasted oats flavored with brown sugar and vanilla, baked, cooled and coated in bittersweet chocolate. A delectable treat for breakfast, a late afternoon pick-me-up, or sprinkled over coffee ice cream for dessert.

Chocolate Granola
You could take this recipe in many other directions. Try one of the delicious dark milk chocolates on the market now, such as Scharffenberger. Vary the nuts, or add cocoa nibs, orange zest, espresso powder, shredded coconut, cinnamon or cardamom. If you add dried fruit or candied ginger, however, do so after baking, when you stir in the chocolate.
2 1/2 cups (8 oz.) old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (4 oz.) whole almonds
1/3 cup packed light brown or unrefined sugar (or use maple syrup or agave nectar)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (2 oz., or half a stick)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats and almonds. Melt together the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove, and stir in vanilla. Toss the butter mixture with the oat mixture to coat thoroughly. Spread evenly on the sheet pan. Bake for ten minutes, then take the granola out and stir it with a metal spatula. Repeat this process two or three times, for a total of 30-40 minutes of baking time, until the oats are golden and toasty. They will still be soft, but will crisp up when they cool. Set the pan on a cooling rack, and let the granola cool completely, about 1 hour. Place the granola in a medium bowl, and reserve the sheet pan and parchment.
Place the chocolate in a metal bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pot, and let the chocolate cool, stirring frequently, to about 80º. It should feel cool when you touch it to your lip, but still be liquid enough to coat your granola. This tempers the chocolate. (You can skip this step if you’re over it, and just melt and fold the chocolate into the granola, but the chocolate may “bloom” and look unattractively streaky.) If the chocolate cools down too much, just place over the pot of barely steaming water and stir constantly until re-melted. Fold the chocolate into the granola to coat thoroughly, and spread on the parchmented sheet pan to cool and set up, about 30 minutes.
Break up and store in a jar or airtight container at room temperature, up to a couple weeks. But I bet you anything it doesn’t last that long…

Alanna’s extra sour country boule

The first sourdough bread I ever baked, four years ago, turned out as hard and dense as a brick. Living in the sourdough capital of the world, I felt like a real loser. I had followed a lengthy recipe, raising my own starter from flour and water, nurturing it for three whole days until it began to bubble and smell tangy. My failure probably had more to do with a weak, newborn starter than anything else, but that was cold comfort. As my starter matured, though, the bread I baked with it came out better and better.

Since then, I’ve raised a few different starters, but I’d always end up killing them out of neglect when the summer months came and it was too hot to fathom cranking the oven up to 500º. Then, last spring, I inherited the most active, robust starter I’ve ever had the pleasure of baking with. I don’t know the origins of this starter, and have suspicions that it may have been started with commercial yeast. But that doesn’t matter to me now. I can ignore my starter in the fridge for weeks, then take it out and feed it with nary a pout or obstinate refusal to rise. Instead, it bubbles up beautifully, like a wagging dog greeting you at the door after you’ve been gone all day, leash in snout, eager for a walk. “No need to make pancakes,” it tells me, “I’m ready for the big guns.” This one’s a keeper.
Over the years I’ve equipped myself with the proper bread baking materials: a baking stone, a coiled willow rising basket, and a lame for slashing the unbaked loaves, as well as the sourdough bible, Nancy Silverton’s Breads From the La Brea Bakery, which includes, aside from dozens and dozens of sourdough loaves, boules and flatbreads, recipes for sourdough pancakes, doughnuts, onion rings, and even a souffle-like sourdough chocolate cake. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in sourdough, novice and pro alike.
Though Nancy has been with me through many a glorious loaf, she also encourages one to strike out on ones own. So I decided to write my own bread recipe.
Most sourdough recipes call for a very little bit of starter, half a cup or so per large loaf, which really bugs me, since I always have such a surplus. I decided to try tripling the amount called for in Nancy’s basic white boule recipe, adjusting the quantities of the other ingredients accordingly. It was the best loaf I’ve baked yet; a bit denser than Acme’s Levain, my naturally leavened holy grail, but every bit as chewy and full flavored, with an open crumb and a nicely caramelized crust.
Any bread you don’t get to can be made into killer croutons. Around these parts, we cube extra bread and store it in the freezer, then fry it in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet, add a sprinkling of salt, and munch them on salads and soups.
Alanna’s Extra Sour Country Boule

Makes one large boule, about 2 pounds
Total time: about 9 hours, not including refreshing starter
Timeline:
refresh starter four hours before beginning recipe
mix, knead and autolyse dough, 1 hour
first rise, 3 – 4 hours (or overnight in fridge)
shape dough, 10 minutes
second rise, 1 1/2 – 2 hours
bake, 45 minutes
cool loaf, 1 – 2 hours
A few notes: Nancy Silverton’s book is an amazing resource for learning about sourdough. This is a nice looking site if you want to learn how to raise your own starter; I haven’t tried his exact method, and I’ve always started mine with white flour, though he calls for whole wheat. (If you live near me, I’m happy to give you some of mine!)
In order to raise bread, your starter has to be refreshed, full of bubbles and vigor. If your starter isn’t doubling within four or five hours when you feed it, it will not be strong enough to raise bread. “If baking is all about patience, sourdough baking is all about more patience.” I read that somewhere. So make sure your starter is active and full of bubbles; if it isn’t, don’t despair; bake some sourdough crackers and give the starter another feeding or two til it’s ready. I keep my starter rather thick and almost gloppy, the consistency of a very thick pancake batter. Thinner starters will make a wetter dough.
I like to weigh my starter, as it is extremely sticky to put it in a measuring cup and then try to scrape out. You also get a much more accurate amount, since the bubbles will drastically effect the volume, by a factor of two or three even. Plus, there are fewer dishes to wash if you weigh everything into one bowl, rather than dicking around with various measuring cups and spoons.
This recipe assumes you have the following accoutrements:
plastic dough scraper
rising basket
wooden pizza peel (you can use a large, smooth cutting board)
baking stone
dough slasher or sharp knife
large plastic bag, such as a trash bag, and something to close it with
sacrificial metal pan to put ice in to steam the oven
The bread:
12 oz. liquid sourdough starter, active, bubbly and ready to go (about 1 1/2 cups stirred down, or 3+ cups at full froth)
8 oz. (1 cup) room temperature or lukewarm water
1 oz. (1/4 cup) wheat germ
5 oz. (1 cup) whole wheat bread flour
8 – 10 oz. (1 2/3 – 2 cups) white bread flour
1/4 oz. (2 1/4 teaspoons) sea salt
Stir together the ingredients in a large bowl in this order until a rough dough forms. Add more bread flour if your dough is very wet. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (a stiff, plastic scraper, which cost about a dollar, is perfect for this), invert the empty bowl over the dough, and let it rest for 20 minutes. (This is called autolyse and allows the flour to absorb some of the water and the gluten strands to begin straightening out; it makes for less kneading in the end, and will prevent you from adding too much flour right off the bat.) After 20 minutes, remove the bowl and knead the dough vigorously for about 10 minutes, adding as little flour as possible to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the surface, until it feels smooth, springy and elastic.
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled ceramic bowl or a large plastic container at least twice the size of the dough. You can mark the outside of the vessel with a piece of masking tape where the dough will be when it doubles, if you like. Cover the vessel tightly with plastic wrap or the lid, and allow it to rise until doubled, three to four hours. The warmer the spot you choose, the faster it will rise, the ideal temperature being 75-85º. You can also let the dough rise in the fridge or a cool place overnight. Let the dough come to room temperature before shaping it, and be sure that it has doubled in bulk to properly develop the glutens.
Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pressing out the air bubbles. Shape into a boule by tucking the edges under itself, then gently rotating the dough on the surface to form a taught outer layer of dough. Here’s a quick video of how to shape a boule. If you have a rising basket, sift a light layer of flour onto the inside, and place the boule in it upside-down, pinching the seam shut. (If you don’t have a rising basket, place the boule directly on a peel or board dusted with cornmeal or flour.) Place the whole deal in a large plastic bag, such as a trash can liner. Inflate the bag and close it with a twist tie or clip. Let the bread rise a second time until doubled, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. When the bread is ready to bake, it will hold an indentation of your finger when you press it lightly, rather than springing back.
While the bread is rising, about an hour before you’re ready to bake, remove all but the bottom rack of your oven. Place a baking stone on the rack (or a heavy duty baking sheet), and place a metal pan that you don’t care about sacrificing (it will get rusty) on the floor of the oven. Crank the oven up to 500º.
When the bread has doubled, gently turn it out onto a wooden peel dusted with flour or cornmeal. Holding a lame or sharp knife at a 45º angle to the loaf, draw the blade, about 1″ deep, across the top of the loaf, beginning and ending 2″ from the bottoms of the boule. (Just look at the darn picture, ok?) Fill a 1 cup measure with ice cubes. Quickly slip the boule off the peel and onto the stone, and toss the cubes into the hot pan on the floor of the oven. This will steam the outside of the loaf, allowing it to expand as it bakes. Bake 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 450º and bake another 20 minutes or so, until the bread is a deep, burnished golden-brown. An instant read thermometer inserted into the middle should read 210º, the temperature at which the dough is set.
Let cool completely on a wire rack, one to two hours, before enjoying. At this point, the bread is still “baking” from the residual heat and steam inside the loaf. The best way to store this type of bread is in a paper bag at room temperature for a couple days. After that, I put the whole thing, paper bag and all, into a plastic bag and continue to store at room temp. After a couple of days like that, it there’s any left over, we make croutons.

The most decadent eggs you will ever eat


A few years ago, I got an exciting phone call. I had won a recipe contest from Cook’s Country, the sister magazine to Cook’s Illustrated. The subject was “interesting sandwiches,” and my entry consisted of french style, slow-cooked eggs on multi-grain toast with goat cheese and arugula. I was to receive $100, and a one-year subscription to their magazine. I was elated.

An entire month passed and I received neither. I began to wonder whether they had changed their minds about the winners. Then one day at pastry school, my classmate came up to me and said, “I saw you in a magazine! Your sandwich with salmon looks really good!” Doubly perplexed, I waited several more weeks to have my questions answered. The check and magazine arrived one day, bearing my photo, next to a heading which read “Elegant eggs on toast: scrambled eggs on pumpernickel with arugula, goat cheese and smoked salmon.” Now, I’m sure that sandwich is delicious too, but from then on I was left to wonder what recipes the contestants had actually entered, as I flipped through my year’s supply of Cook’s Countrys.
So here it is in all its glory – the o.g. elegant eggs on toast. Only I call them “decadent eggs,” and when you read the recipe, you’ll see why. The eggs are cooked with butter and cream in a skillet set over the lowest possible heat, stirred constantly with a rubber spatula. When they set up, after fifteen minutes or so, they are the consistency of a luscious custard, with some ricotta-like curds for body. Soft, meltingly creamy and oozy, they set off the crunch of the toast and the pungency of the herbs.
I made these on a whim the other day, using Acme’s glorious levain, sliced thin and toasted with a brushing of fruity olive oil, and some herbs I had on hand from the chilled beet and buttermilk soup I’d made a few days prior. Feel free to go crazy, though. Toast any bread you love: brioche, olive bread or, yes, even pumpernickel would be lovely. Other nice additions could be:
sliced avocado or tomatoes
arugula or watercress
basil, chervil, or tarragon
a smear of pesto or romesco
truffle oil or fresh truffles, if you should be so lucky
Speaking of lucky, I’m lucky enough to get awesome eggs in my bi-weekly box from Eatwell Farm; the striking orange-yellow of the eggs in the photos are all thanks to their crazy bright and happy yolks.
Decadent eggs on toast, with herbs and goat cheese
Makes 1 – 2 servings
3-4 eggs
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
two slices of bread, such as levain brushed with olive oil
1 ounce or so of soft goat cheese
a couple teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as chives, dill or tarragon
pepper
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the salt and heavy cream until they are homogenous and slightly foamy. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the eggs. Keeping the heat as low as possible, stir constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula, for about 15 minutes, until the eggs are set up to your liking. They should be the texture of a soft ricotta cheese – creamy, yet firm enough to mound, with some curds. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter.
When the eggs are almost done, toast the bread. Spread or crumble on the goat cheese, top with eggs, herbs and a turn of pepper.

Huckle-Pear Galette with Sourdough Pate Brisee Crust


Jay and I have been in huckle heaven. Huckle heaven is not the place where pious huckleberries go after being sacrificed to a bojon gourmet’s belly, but rather the euphoric state in which one finds oneself after a successful huckle hunt. Jay and I stumbled on a ginormous (I can’t believe my spell check is ok with that word) patch of huckleberry bushes in Marin. A few trips resulted in quarts and quarts of the sweet, woodsy little berries.


As mentioned in the previous post, I made this to go with my Mugolio ice cream. Actually, it started out in my head as a huckleberry-fig galette, as we had just scored 10 plus pounds of brown turkey figs from our friends, Michael and Sarah. But the days passed, and the figs got eaten for breakfast with yogurt, granola and huckleberries, and zealously turned into a huge vat of Deborah Madison’s savory-sweet fig and ginger jam, and the remainder sliced and frozen to be used later on.

I suddenly realized that the pears from Jay’s mom’s tree were just about ripe. Pears are sneaky that way, as Eddie Izzard so adroitly pointed out. They sit there, rock hard, until you leave the room and suddenly they’re perfect for about two seconds, until you come back into the room to find them rotted from the inside out. I worried that our pears would meet the same fate in the tremendous heat wave of last week, and decided that action was needed. I sliced the pears, sauteed them in vanilla brown butter, tossed them with some sugar, lemon juice and huckles, and laid them in a sourdough pate brisee crust.

As for this crazy crust to which I keep alluding, I got the idea here, as I am always looking for ways to use up more starter. But I didn’t like the baking soda and shortening in the original recipe, so I decided to make up my own. I usually use Martha’s pate brisee recipe, which is buttery-tender and flaky. I based my recipe upon hers, substituting sourdough starter for the water, and reducing the amount of flour. The results were surprisingly fabulous. The acidity of the starter has the effect of tenderizing the glutens in the dough, as would lemon juice or vinegar called for in some pie dough recipes, resulting in an even more tender, flaky dough than usual. It also enhances the flavor, tasting not sour but just more full, the way a preferment does in a bread recipe.

The gallette is excellent served warm, with a scoop of Mugolio ice cream melting alongside.

Huckle-Pear Galette with Sourdough Pate Brisee Crust

Makes one 9″ galette, or 8 servings

Sourdough pate brisee

Makes enough for a 9″ pie, tart or galette

1 cup flour (I use whole spelt, but all purpose or whole wheat are fine, too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
about 1/2 cup (4 oz.) liquid sourdough starter (mine was at room temperature, but chilled starter would probably be even better)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and work with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some larger, pea-sized chunks remaining. Gradually add the starter tossing the mixture with a rubber spatula or your hands, pressing it against the sides of the bowl, until the dough barely holds together when squeezed. You may not need all the starter, or you may need to add more. Gather the dough into a ball, put it in a plastic bag, and squash it into a 6″ disc. Chill at least 1 hour, or up to a couple days, or freeze for up to two months.

Huckle-pear galette

My pastry teacher at Tante Marie’s, Claire Legas, taught us a handy technique to make a galette perfectly round and a bit less flat using a cake ring or springform pan with the bottom removed. Lacking one of those, you can make the galette free-form. It will still kick ass.

If you are lucky enough to have perfectly ripe pears, skip the sauteing step and just toss the pears with the vanilla brown butter and so forth. If you are without huckles, try this combination with all pears, or use apples and blackberries.

1 1/4 lbs. firm-ripe pears, cored, in 1/4 slices (ok to leave the skin on)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 – 4 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cups fresh or frozen huckleberries
1 tablespoon coarse turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400º, with only the bottom rack in place. If you have a baking stone, place it on the rack to heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment, and (optionally) set a 9″ cake ring or springform pan, with the bottom removed, on top. Set aside.

In a 10″ skillet over medium heat, cook the butter with the vanilla bean until it browns and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Add the pears and saute until firm-tender, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and toss in the sugar, salt and lemon juice to your taste. Set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and let soften at room temp for about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a 12″ round; it will be fairly thin. Lay it in the cake ring, lifting to settle the dough into the corners, letting the edges drape over the sides. Place the pears and their juices on top of the pastry and add the berries. Gently toss with your hands to distribute evenly. Fold the edges of the dough loosely over the galette. Sprinkle the whole galette with the coarse sugar. Place in the oven, on the baking stone, and bake until the crust browns and the juices bubble thickly. Remove the ring and let cool slightly. Slice and serve warm, with ice cream or creme fraiche.

Mugolio (pine cone bud extract) Ice Cream

I purchased a tiny bottle of Mugolio, or pine cone bud extract, over a year ago at Avedano’s meat market in Bernal Heights. Imagine licking fresh maple syrup while standing in the middle of a fragrant pine forest, and you have a vague notion of what Mugolio tastes like. But trying to describe Mugolio’s ambrosial flavor is like trying to dance about a huckleberry-pear gallette. The curious can order it through Amazon, but I got my bottle for a lower price at Avedano’s, plus they let me taste it first, and gave me a sample of house-made beef stew to boot. Suck on that, Amazon.

Mugolio is heavenly with fresh goat cheese and ripe figs or pears, or drizzled sparingly over buckwheat crepes or huckleberry sourdough pancakes. But the Mugolio wanted to get more out of life.

Mugolio: Make me into ice cream.
Me: No way, you’re too expensive. What am I, made of money?
Mugolio (sweetly): Come on, I’m so strong. You wouldn’t need much of me.
Me: I don’t know. I’ll think about it.
Mugolio (accusatory): You said that last year. I’m not getting any fresher. Besides, it would go perfectly with all those huckleberry desserts you’ve been dreaming about.
Me: Agh, get out of my head, Mugolio!
Mugolio (wheedling): If you really loved me…

So I caved. I made a plain ice cream base and added the mugolio teaspoonful by teaspoonful until it tasted assertive, but not overly strong, four teaspoons in total. Then I made a huckleberry-pear gallette to eat it with, using my recipe for sourdough pate brisée. I’m happy, Jay’s happy, and the Mugolio is happy, for now. We’ll see what it askes me to do next, like standing on my head, or making a goat’s milk and Mugolio panna cotta, or some such nonsense. Here’s the ice cream recipe.

Mugolio Ice Cream

Makes about three cups, or 6-8 servings

Notes: Serve Mugolio ice cream plain, drizzled with more Mugolio, or with warm, fruited desserts, such as apple, pear, quince, fig, huckleberry or blackberry, or any combination thereof.

This makes a deliciously dense, rich ice cream, my favorite base recipe for any flavor. For vanilla, omit the Mugolio, and add 1/2 a vanilla bean to the milk while you heat it. Let it steep 20 minutes or more, then proceed with the recipe, leaving the bean in the mixture while it chills.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
4 or 5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Mugolio (pine cone bud extract; see above)

Place the cold cream in a quart sized container and place a fine mesh strainer over it. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until small it is hot and gently steaming. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and salt. Secure the bowl with a damp towel, and gradually temper in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the mixture just starts to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin film, 170º. Immediately pour the mixture through the strainer into the cream. Whisk in the Mugolio until thoroughly combined. Chill the mixture at least four hours, or up to a couple of days. Churn in an ice cream maker.