Apple Cider & Salted Caramel Crème Fraîche Coffee Cake

Apple Cider & Salted Caramel Crème Fraîche Coffee Cake

So I know Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and pretty much all we can think about is what we forgot to get from the store. (I forgot chestnuts. Ugh.)

But look on the bright side: If, like me, you have to brave the madness that is last-minute Thanksgiving shopping, you can at least grab all the ingredients to make this coffee cake too. I know it might not really have a place amidst all the pies, but it deserves a place somewhere, because it’s ridiculously delicious. Whip it up on Friday morning so your family doesn’t eat turkey sandwiches for breakfast. Or file it away for a quieter occasion, when you can eat half of it with no relatives around to judge you. Just promise me that, at some point in time, you will make and eat this. Please.

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Buttermilk-Glazed Kabocha Doughnuts with Candied Thyme

Buttermilk-Glazed Kabocha Doughnuts with Candied Thyme

Oh hey.

Sooo…elephant in the room: I kind of fell off the blog radar. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but my days just got all sorts of busy all at once. Job busyness. Life busyness. Before I knew it, a month went by. I’m still climbing out from under a pile of emails. I am terrified of what my feedly looks like. But I’m back, and I missed you guys! Please accept my apology. It comes with mini doughnuts.

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Ginger Cookie & Carrot Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ginger Cookie & Carrot Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches

It, in my mind, is already fall. It might be 83° out right now. I might be sitting at my desk downing cold fizzy water and avoiding stepping out of the path of my fan for more than a few moments. It doesn’t matter, because none of this can counteract the mental shift that began last week, when my body sensed a chill in the air and the faint, unmistakeable smell of autumn. It’s that first hint of season change that makes my brain snap out of a its whiny I-am-so-over-summer-and-all-its-oppresive-grossness dormancy and come alive, in an unstoppable way. It feels like every little bit of me is vibrating at an alarming frequency, starting in my synapses, traveling down my spine, and radiating out through the rest of my body. I speak louder and faster. I fidget excessively. I get crazy eyes. I’m so edgy that I actually scream when I catch sight of a stray thread hanging from the dishtowel above the sink because I assume it’s a spider. (A spider that presumably intends to lay eggs in my face, because that’s a thing I’ve been afraid of since I was little — thanks a lot, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell.)

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Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

There is a lot of berry picking nostalgia tied to my childhood. Having a whole lot of woodsy property meant random wild blueberry bushes and happening upon the occasional tiny little wild strawberries, along with a giant huckleberry bush in a clearing and a decent number of raspberries along the driveway. But blackberries were the most abundant, popping up around the edge of our lawn, all along the driveway and main road, and covering a semi-secret enormous hillside a little ways outside our property line. Which is perhaps why they’ve always been my favorite berry. Strawberries are fleshy and sweet. Raspberries are tart and delicate. But blackberries are intense. They are hearty, seedy things. (I might be among the minority here, but I love berry seeds.) Their appearance means season change is just around the corner. Goodbye gross summer and hellooooo glorious fall. Bring on the sweaters, scarves, and birthday cake.

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Blueberry, Peach, & Crème Fraîche Pie Bars with Almond Streusel

Blueberry, Peach, & Crème Fraîche Pie Bars with Almond Streusel

Please.

Look.

Away.

Do not judge these poor bars by their pictures here. I have done terrible things to them.

Those sad, melty looking tops……they were crumbly once. Not long ago. But then I put them in the fridge so I could save them for photos. And when I took them out, they looked less crumbly and delicious than they did on Day One. So I decided to stick them in the oven, because I thought that would help. Not sure why, because it didn’t. Like DID NOT AT ALL. Now they’re weird and melty looking, and I feel as though I’ve dishonored my pie bars. Because they are ridiculously delicious. You can probably tell by all those words in the title, right? Well there’s basil in there too. And the crème fraîche is made with Madagascar vanilla. Yeah, I didn’t eat that right off a spoon or anything. So let’s look past the not-so-crumbly tops and imagine just how good they are. Because they are THAT GOOD. Better, even.

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