July Recipe of the Month: Blueberry Nectarine Pie

One of my pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments was in 1996 when the incomparable Julia Childs invited me to appear on the seminal food series Baking with Julia. A version of this fruit-filled pie was included in the Baking with Julia cookbook, edited by Dorie Greenspan. Over the years, we’ve tweaked this recipe, always wanting to improve on one of our all-time favorite pies. Throughout the seasons, you should play around with the fruit combinations, using what’s fresh at your local farmers market. This time of year, it’s hard to beat fresh nectarines with plump blueberries!

– Leslie Mackie

Ingredients
Makes one 9-inch pie

1 batch Macrina’s Flaky Pie Dough
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and air-dried
4 ripe nectarines, rinsed and cut into ½-inch wedges
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
4 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Directions

Make one batch of Flaky Pie Dough. Keep discs refrigerated until you’re ready to use them.

In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, nectarine wedges, ¾ cup sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and flour. Toss to coat the fruit with the other ingredients.

On a floured work surface, roll out the larger disc of Flaky Pie Dough so that its diameter is 14 inches and it’s approximately ⅛-inch thick. Fold the flattened disc in half and lift it onto your pie pan. Unfold the disc and gently press it down and around the sides. There should be a 1 to 1 ½-inch overhang for sealing and crimping at the finish.

Pour the fruit filling into the raw pie shell. Use a spoon to press gently on the fruit smoothing the surface so the filling doesn’t have gaps that would settle when baking. Break up the 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter and dot the top of the filling. Paint the rim of the pie dough with egg wash.

On a floured work surface, roll out the smaller disc of Flaky Pie Dough so that its diameter is just under 10 inches and it’s approximately ⅛-inch thick. While it’s flat, cut vents in the disc in a decorative design. We often cut two 2-inch slits (across from each other) and four 1-inch slits to the left and right of the larger slits. Be creative; the main thing is to have steam vents so the crust doesn’t balloon.

Gently fold the disc in half and lift it onto the pie. Unfold it and match the perimeter to the egg-washed rim of the bottom dough. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash, then fold the lower dough’s overhang up around the entire pie.

Once it’s sealed, crimp the edge with a decorative design. You can flatten and use fork tongs for design or use your fingertips to form a waving edge. Again, be creative. Brush the crimped edge with egg wash and sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar over the top of the pie. Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes before baking.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 400°F.

Place the chilled pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 40 to 45 minutes. The top crust should be golden brown with bubbling fruit juices visible.

Let the pie cool for 90 minutes before serving. Serve it with your favorite ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

June Recipe of the Month: Apricot Almond Upside-Down Cake

Apricots are the first stone fruit of the season. Their tartness balances well with caramelized brown sugar and butter, enhanced with the sweet bite of Heritage Distillery’s Brown Sugar Bourbon (or similar). This delicate cake has the crunch of roasted almonds, the earthiness of buckwheat flour and the joy of juicy apricots.

Ingredients
Makes one 9-inch cake

¾ cup whole almonds
16 Tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature, divided
1¾ cup light brown sugar, divided
4 tsp Heritage Distillery Brown Sugar Bourbon, divided (or other bourbon)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
7 fresh apricots, halved and pits removed
1 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trace the outline of a 9-inch round cake pan on a sheet of parchment and cut a ring one half-inch larger than your marking. Cut 2-inch strips of parchment to line the sides. Lightly brush oil on the base and sides of the cake pan. Place the parchment strips onto the oiled sides, then insert the parchment circle and press the overlapping paper flush against the edge. Set aside.

Place the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then pulse in a food processor to a medium-fine texture.

In a small saucepan, slowly melt 4 Tbsp butter. Add ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tsp Brown Sugar Bourbon and vanilla. Whisk it all together, then pour it into the lined cake pan. Use a spatula to spread the sugar mixture evenly over the base of the pan. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the sugar mixture, then place the apricot halves, cut side down, around the edge of the pan. For the center circle, cut the apricots into quarters and place in a spiral to create a flower-like design.

In a medium bowl, sift the all-purpose and buckwheat flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the remaining 12 Tbsp butter, ¾ cup of brown sugar and the granulated sugar. Using a paddle attachment, cream the mixture on medium speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is light and pale in texture.

Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next. Then add the remaining bourbon and almond extract and mix for 30 seconds to evenly distribute. Scrape the bowl frequently with a spatula to ensure everything is mixed in.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Stirring by hand with a spatula, add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the buttermilk. Continue alternating until the flour has absorbed the buttermilk. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter over the apricots and level with a spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 20 minutes. To serve, cover pan with the plate you want to present it on and invert. Carefully lift the cake pan and remove the parchment paper. It’s best to let it cool for another 20 minutes and serve the cake while it’s still slightly warm.

Enjoy with your favorite vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

How to Make a Natural Starter 

Many of us have been spending a lot more time at home lately. Some of us are looking to distract and engage in crafts to take breaks from the anxiety of the outside world.

Kneading and baking homemade bread is one way. It is tactile, rhythmic, and delivers great rewards along with its calming properties. If you’ve already started exploring baking bread, how about taking your bread to the next level by making your own natural starter? You may not keep the starter up forever, but it will make some of the best homemade loaves you’ve ever tasted.

Of course, you can make bread using a packet of dried yeast, but harnessing the power of a natural starter is a transformative experience. In fact, it was a natural starter that helped transform Macrina from a dream into bakery. No exaggeration. In 1991, Leslie Mackie was preparing for her annual harvest party, an autumn gathering of food lovers in which everyone brought food made from their gardens. Leslie decided she’d bake bread for the event with a natural starter made from grapes grown in her garden. She crushed the plump red grapes and added them to a mix of flour and water. After several days of love and regular feeding, the starter was alive and kicking. The loaf that she developed for that party was a hit and ultimately became our house bread, Macrina Casera. Now, more than 25 years later, we are still feeding that same starter every day and baking hundreds of loaves. Casera’s mild sour flavor is derivative of those grapes, that fortuitous backyard fermentation.

It was this loaf that helped Leslie decide to open Macrina Bakery in 1993 and the same loaf that put Macrina on the regional map in 1994 when the Casera won second place in a Sunset Magazine sourdough competition.

We now have several other starters that we use for various breads, like the starter we developed from grapes from Hightower Cellars Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that we use in our Pane Francese. When we were collaborating with PCC on a whole wheat baguette, Scott Owen, PCC Markets Grocery Merchandiser, said, “Macrina’s collection of sourdough starters is incredible.” We like to think so and carefully feed and nurture them daily to keep them vigorous—they’re the heart of our naturally-leavened breads.

There are many ways to make a natural starter. Here’s our favorite way:

Start with fresh grapes. Discard any unfavorable grapes. Wash to remove any debris. Weigh out 1½ lbs and wrap them in cheesecloth.

Weigh out 2 lbs of all-purpose flour and 3 lbs water at 75°F. Combine the water and flour and mix until smooth.

Squeeze the wrapped grapes over the bowl to release their juice into the flour mixture. Submerge the grape sachet in the bowl. Let the bowl sit uncovered at room temperature for a full day. After 24 hours have elapsed, discard the grape sachet.

Your starter will now have life. The natural yeasts from the grapes are doing their work. Stir the starter at least once a day for a few days until you see bubbles on the surface. Once this happens, you need to begin feeding it. Mix another 2 lbs of flour and 3 lbs of water together and then add it to your starter. Mix well and allow it to sit out another full day.

You should have a vigorous starter. Choose a recipe for naturally leavened bread (you can find the recipe for our Macrina Casera in the Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook) and taste the magic you’ve created!

From this point on, you’ll need to feed your starter like a pet. Feed it with a mix of equal parts flour and water. Hopefully, you’ll be using it frequently, so it’s easy to remember. If the starter gets too large, discard half of it. If liquid begins gathering on top, you can move it into the refrigerator to slow the fermentation.

Enjoy!

 

May Recipe of the Month: Mother’s Day Cake

This simple chocolate cake is my favorite. The base layers are our moist Mom’s Chocolate Cake. The right balance of espresso and chocolate make the mocha mousse unforgettable, and the dark chocolate ganache adds flavor and elegance. Garnish it with raspberries or chocolate shavings and you’ll have a beautiful homemade cake to surprise your mother with at her celebration.

Ingredients

Makes one 9-inch cake

Cake

2 eggs

¾ cup whole milk

⅓ cup canola oil

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1¾ cups granulated sugar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

¾ cup boiling water

9-inch cardboard cake circle

Mocha Mousse

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup brewed espresso (or very strong coffee)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups whipping cream

½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Ganache Glaze

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Cake

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Brush the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with canola oil. Line the base with a parchment circle. Dust the oiled edges with flour to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, canola oil and vanilla. Set aside.

Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a stand mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 1 minute to combine the ingredients. Add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl between. After the third addition, the mixture should be smooth.

With the mixer on low speed, add the boiling water in a slow stream, taking approximately 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for an additional minute.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes. When finished, the top will be set and the sides should pull slightly away from the edges. Let cool for 1 hour.

To remove the cake, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then invert it gently onto a piece of parchment. After the cake has completely cooled, cut it horizontally into three equal layers. Set aside.

Mocha Mousse

In a medium saucepan, melt the semisweet chocolate chips, espresso and unsalted butter. Remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature.

In a stand mixer bowl, whip the cream to a soft peak using the whisk attachment. Add the sifted powdered sugar. Continue whipping until the mixture forms medium firm peaks.

Remove the bowl. In three additions, fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Set aside.

Ganache Glaze

In a medium saucepan, bring the whipping cream to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Whisk to make a smooth glaze. Let cool to room temperature (it will thicken slightly).

Assembly

Sprinkle a little sugar onto the 9-inch cake circle (or cardboard cut to size and covered with aluminum foil). Top with the first cake layer and spread with one third of the mousse. Repeat this process with the second layer. Then cover with the last layer of cake. Make sure the sides line up and the top layer is flat. Adjust if needed. Then spread the last third of the mousse evenly over the top and sides until it is smooth. Chill the cake for 30 minutes.

Place a 9-inch cake pan upside down on a rimmed baking sheet. Center your chilled cake on the inverted cake pan. Pour half the ganache over the top of the cake so that it is covered evenly. Allow the excess to spill over the sides. Add remaining glaze to the sides and smooth for a nice presentation. The chilled cake should allow you to model the glaze to a smooth surface.

Garnish as you like. Sugar sprinkles, flowers, fresh fruits, berries and chocolate shavings are some of our favorites. Enjoy!

 

Bread Baking Made Easy

Our organic whole wheat bread kit makes two excellent homemade pan loaves, one for now, and one to share with a lucky neighbor. 

Do you love homemade bread but have always been too intimidated to try baking it yourself? Our organic whole wheat bread kit allows you to make amazingly easy, excellent bread at home without fancy equipment or any special bread-making skills. You’ll get all the smells, two flavorful, nicely-textured loaves, and the sweet reward of having made it yourself. For those of you with kids, this is also a great project to undertake with them.

We chose this loaf for our first-ever bread making kit because it’s one of Leslie’s favorites to make at home. “To me, this pan loaf is the perfect comfort food,” Leslie says. “It smells so good while it’s baking, and the organic whole wheat flour we include gives the bread an excellent texture and flavor.”

Our kit includes everything you need but a standard bread loaf pan, oil for brushing the pan, and honey (or agave or maple syrup). Our recipe has two options: A no-knead version, and a stand-mixer version. The no-knead method takes a little longer (an extra 90 minutes) but turns out a loaf equally as good as the one from the stand mixer. If you don’t have a mixer, this is the path for you—or if you just want to save yourself some extra cleanup.

From start to finish, you’ll need to allow for three hours of combined proofing time (four and a half for the no-knead method) and about 45 minutes of baking time. The active time—mixing the dough and shaping the loaf—won’t account for more than 20 minutes of your time.

If you’re tired of being confined to your home and want to try something new, this kit gives you the chance to turn out professional loaves without the stress. You’ll enjoy the rewards, one slice at a time, for days. 

 

April Recipe of the Month: Roasted Steak Crostini with Arugula and Lemon Aioli

This recipe makes a great appetizer or can be enjoyed as an open-faced sandwich with a green salad for a light meal. Flat iron steak is nearly as tender as tenderloin but is more economical. The marbling in this cut adds flavor, and the meat grills beautifully. If you can’t find it, try substituting hanger steak or tenderloin. Seasoning with black pepper adds a piquant roundness to the meat. Vibrant lemon aioli and crisp arugula enhance each bite with flavor and texture. The crostini pair well with red wine.

Ingredients

Makes 12 crostini

1½ lbs flat iron steak

3 Tbsp cracked black pepper

2 Tbsp kosher salt

¼ cup aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar from Modena), divided

Macrina Baguette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 bunches fresh arugula

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 egg yolks

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tsp chopped garlic

1½ cups canola or sunflower oil

Directions:

Season both sides of the flat iron steak with the cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of aceto balsamico over the steak and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the baguette on the bias (diagonal cuts) into slices measuring roughly a ½-inch thick. Slices should be about 4 inches long. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the baguette with olive oil and grill until crisp and marked by the grill. Set aside.

Wash and remove the fibrous stems from the arugula. Set aside in paper towels to dry. Zest the lemon and set aside.

To make the aioli, whisk the yolks, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, mustard and garlic in a medium bowl until combined. Continuing to whisk vigorously, add the canola oil in a slow stream until it’s fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the aioli until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Preheat the grill pan or your grill to medium-high and sear each side of the steak with grill marks, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven (or place the steaks to the side of the flame on your outdoor grill and cover) for 6 to 8 minutes. For medium-rare steaks, the internal temperature should be 135°F. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.

Spread the grilled crostini out on a platter and top each with 1 tsp of aioli. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula leaves with the lemon zest, the remaining lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the arugula between the crostini.

Thinly slice the steak and place 2 to 3 slices on each crostini. Finish the crostini with a dollop of aioli and a drizzle of aceto balsamico. Enjoy!

Printable PDF.

A Savory Soup from Seasons, Our New Cookbook

Stuck at home and wondering how to fill the time? When we have the time, we love to cook. And in times like these, our thoughts turn to comfort food. The Lentil Bacon soup from Seasons, the new Macrina Cookbook, is one of our favorites. It’s hearty and simple to prepare. Of course, we recommend serving it with a fresh baguette, which, if you don’t want to go out, can be ordered through DoorDash. (Pro tip: use code MACRINA10 for 10% off your first order during the month of March.)

Our cookbook as available at the cafés or you can order it delivered through our website.

LENTIL BACON SOUP

This lentil soup is simple to prepare and provides nourishing warmth—perfect for a winter lunch or light dinner. It has layers of flavor: the smokiness of the bacon, an aromatic base of onions and carrots, and the acidity of the tomatoes. The savory lentils absorb all the flavors and thicken the soup. As it simmers, the fragrance of garlic and fresh thyme fills the kitchen. Leftovers are even better the next day.

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium fennel bulb, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

½ cup white wine

1 cup dried lentils

6 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium soup pot or deep saucepan, combine the olive oil, onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery and fennel. Cook over medium heat with the lid partially on to steam the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are translucent and smell sweet, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bacon. Cook for 3 minutes until the garlic smells sweet but is not dark or burnt. Add the white wine and reduce by half. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any caramelized bits on the bottom and stir into the mix. Add the lentils and stock. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour in order to concentrate and develop the flavors. Lentils should still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper. This is delicious topped with sour cream and served with warm crusty bread.

January Recipe of the Month: Almond Raspberry Cornetto

The quintessential Italian breakfast pastry is the cornetto (singular form of the plural cornetti), a pastry similar to its French cousin the croissant. A bit more rustic than a croissant, they are light and airy and a little sweet with a hint of salt. This simple recipe elevates the cornetti for a lovely brunch treat. You can buy the cornetti the day before—traditionally bakeries use their day-old croissants for these—and you can prepare the almond cream and quick raspberry jam before your guests arrive. Then all you need to do before serving is to assemble and pop them in the oven! These twice baked treats are beautiful, especially dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with a few fresh raspberries. This recipe calls for plain cornetti, but chocolate cornetti also work and add another dimension of flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 4

1/2 cup whole raw almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 egg

3/4 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 Macrina Cornetti

1/2 cup sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roast the whole almonds on the baking sheet for 12 to 15 minutes until they are golden brown and fragrant. Let cool.

In a food processor, blend the whole almonds, butter, 1/4 cup sugar, egg, vanilla and all-purpose our until smooth. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add the raspberries and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, dissolving the sugar and releasing the juices from the berries. Combine the water and cornstarch and add the mix to the berries. Once it has thickened, remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl to cool.

Cut each cornetto horizontally, leaving a hinge. On the lined baking sheet, place the 4 open-faced cornetti. Spread half the almond mixture on the bottom half of each cornetto. Save the remainder of the mix for later.

Place in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes to melt the almond mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of the raspberry jam onto the almond mixture and ip the top of each cornetto closed. Spread the remaining almond mixture over the tops of the cornetti and sprinkle with the sliced almonds (the almonds should stick to the almond mixture). Return the baking sheet pan to the oven for 3 more minutes to toast the almonds and warm the cornetti.

Serve them for brunch, or simply with a hot cup of coffee, tea or a frothy cappuccino. Enjoy!

Printable PDF

Baking Holiday Cookies with Friends

At Macrina, we love baking and we love community. The annual holiday cookie exchange is a great example of this—each cookie a story, each an act of love. It’s a time to visit your neighbors and share good tidings. Not much tops baking family recipes with friends, but when you don’t have the time, Macrina has you covered. Our collection of 20 holiday cookies, sold in a reusable Panibois wooden baking box, will bring joy to your friends and neighbors. Each of the six delicious types of cookie has a story and a distinct flavor.

Read our blog to hear how one of Macrina’s partners, Michelle Galvin, has rekindled and nurtured dear friendships through an annual holiday cookie baking gathering and to learn more about our Holiday Cookie Box.

A few years after college, newly married and busy establishing a career, finding time to visit with dear friends was a challenge. In high school, Trina, Kerri and I would spend whole days together, talking every day. But now, despite the desire, we barely saw each other.

With Christmas approaching, we made a promise we’d start a new tradition: a holiday cookie party. We all loved baking and revered the neighborly tradition of the cookie exchange. What better way to reconnect than spending an afternoon sharing and baking family recipes together?

At the first gathering, Trina brought a vintage pizzelle maker. The family heirloom looked, uh, well-loved. It was easy to imagine the hundreds or thousands of thin wafer-like cookies it had produced over the years. Making 200 pizzelles alone would be a monotonous task, but the repetitive task of spooning dollop after dollop of dough into the rustic pizzelle iron with friends made it fun.  We laughed a lot and had plenty of time to catch up.

Next, Trina taught us her Nonna’s biscotti recipe, the best in all of Montecatini she’d claimed. Her “trick” was to toast the almonds before adding them to the dough. Nothing satisfies the need for crunch like biscotti do, and I loved hearing the stories of Trina’s grandmother.

Since only two baking sheets could fit in the oven at a time, we spent an entire Saturday baking. It was like old times, talking of matters big and small, remembering old stories and sharing new ones. And at the end of it, we each had a large box of cookies to share with our friends, neighbors and family.

We promised we’d do it again the next year. And we did. And the year after that, too. Sometime in the early aughts, one of us showed up with a special holiday cookie edition of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. We tried making her Chocolate Crackle Cookies. Soon our hands were sticky with chocolate dough. But they were so delicious straight from the oven—chocolate crack-le!—I worried we wouldn’t have enough to give away. Of course, they got added to the yearly event. Even after all these years, Kerri and Trina still debate whether they should be crisp or chewy and how long to bake them. I love them both ways—and both of them—so I sit back and enjoy the playful debate.

 

As we added cookies, we also added kids. Gingerbread cookies with bright white royal frosting and decorated sugar cookies made their way onto our cookie trays. With the many small helping hands, the mess grew exponentially. The number of hands helping clean up did not! But the kids were thrilled to help. Though some of them struggled just a little to part with the cookies, they were all proud to present their teachers with plates of cookies they’d helped make.

Not only did I catch up with my friends, but now we also traded parenting secrets and potty training strategies. Later those stories included the challenges of starting new schools, puberty and middle school, sharing the car keys with new drivers, and college tours.

Not that it was all free of tragedy. At one gathering, midway through the pizzelle making, Trina dropped the heirloom iron and it broke. (Thank goodness, it was her—not me!) We raced out to a fancy kitchen store for a replacement. It sufficed but didn’t make cookies anywhere nearly as good, or as beautiful. So, we took to eBay for a replacement, carefully inspecting images and bidding patiently. Three years later, we had not one but two vintage pizzelle makers—exact replicas—safe cover if the dropsies came over us again.

With more kids and more plates of cookies to assemble, the single oven was a bottleneck. So, we ventured down to the Macrina test kitchen in Kent. The kitchen had so much space and fancy ovens galore. We were like pros in there. In just three hours, we had plates and plates of cookies, and we’d barely broken a sweat! We realized that the point of the gathering wasn’t about speed and efficiency (although the convection oven with rotating racks that baked all our cookies evenly was amazing), but nurturing friendships of more than 40 years. We’re back to the two cookie sheets oven.

Fortunately, it is the exception when time and circumstance doesn’t allow for our annual event. The few times it has happened, all three of us were very grateful that we could count on the fabulous bakers at Macrina. Sure, we missed the time together. But we were still able to bring our friends, family and neighbors lovely gift boxes of homemade holiday cookies we could be proud of.

Macrina Holiday Cookie box is an assortment of 20 cookies bundled in a reusable Panibois wooden baking box. It contains:

2 Gingerbread

3 Chocolate Crinkle

3 Mexican Wedding Balls

4 Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti

4 Pecan Rosemary Shortbread

4 Rugelach

December Recipe of the Month: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This lighter variation of our pumpkin pie practically floats. The fluffy texture comes from separating the eggs and folding the stiff whites into the batter. A topping of whipped cream adds to the feeling that you’re lifting an airy pumpkin dream to your mouth. At Macrina, butternut squash is the not-so-secret ingredient in our pumpkin pies. Simply put, we think pumpkin pies taste better with a dollop of roasted butternut squash. In this recipe however, butternut squash can replace the pumpkin altogether. We hope the cloud-like combination of sweetened squash, crystalized ginger and buttery graham cracker crust becomes an annual holiday tradition.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 8-10

6 ounces graham crackers (2 cups), crushed in food processor

1/2 cup coconut our

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 cups roasted butternut squash, puréed (or substitute a 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, medium dice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 packet powdered gelatin (1/4 ounce)

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Garnish

1 tablespoon crystalized ginger, thinly sliced

Sugared cranberries or pomegranate seeds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F and center the oven rack.

In a medium bowl, add the crushed graham crackers, coconut flour and melted butter. Mix well with a spoon. Press the mixture into a 9″ pie pan so that the edges and base have a uniform thickness. Bake for 5-10 minutes until edges are golden brown. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the puréed butternut squash (or pumpkin), maple syrup and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Place a medium bowl over a saucepan filled with 2″ of water (or use a double boiler). Add the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, crystalized ginger, nutmeg and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Add the powdered gelatin and whisk to combine.

Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Continue adding the milk mixture in 1/4 cup increments until it’s all added. Return the incorporated mixture to the double boiler over medium heat and whisk for 3 minutes to thicken the custard. Stir in the squash purée and cook for another 3 minutes to evaporate any excess water from the squash.

Transfer the pie filling to a clean bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes, giving it an occasional stir.

Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until they look foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and whip until the whites are gently firm.

Fold the egg white mixture into the cooled pie filling. Ensure that it’s uniformly combined before pouring the mixture into the prepared graham cracker shell. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream. As the mixture starts to firm up, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

Top the pie with the sweetened heavy cream. It is best if you chill the pie for another 2 hours before serving to let the whipped cream set up. For a festive presentation, garnish with crystalized ginger and sugared cranberries or pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!