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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sauce and Stock

Last weekend the weather in Colorado was cold and snowy, a perfect day to bubble up stock and Italian sauce. Now everyone always asks what type of sauce is this? The answer is always the same, I'm not exactly sure, I call it Noto Red Sauce. The recipe for this sauce has been past down 7 generations from my husband's paternal family. When it was past down to me over 20 years ago I was honored and petrified. This was a sauce DF grew-up eating all his life, the last thing I wanted was for my husband and in-laws to be disappointed. As I pondered this my father in-law pulled me aside, whispered in a low voice:"every generation has put their own person touch and to just have fun!" Which is exactly what I have been doing for  20 plus years. I must admit I change the meats each time I cook it. This time I used Osso Bucco, short ribs, and country pork ribs.
I grab the largest stock pots I own; 1 for sauce and and one stock!
I ended up using 8-28 ounces San Marzano tomatoes, juiced and drained. Also I used 2 small cans of tomato paste. The tubes are great if you only need a portion, but I need the entire can for the pot of sauce.
I brown the osso booco, short ribs, and country pork ribs with a diced medium yellow onion, flake kosher salt and pepper. When the meat is browned on all sides I remove it to a plate, brown the tomato paste, add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, and deglaze the pan with red wine (I always have a bottle of red wine that we drink with dinner). It is pretty important to use a wine you like, because this sauce cooks for about 6 to 8 hours.
Once the meats are browned, we can start putting the sauce together. DF opens all the tomato cans, drains the juice from the tomatoes, breaks the tomatoes up, he prefers to use his hands, but a kitchen scissors works too, while Sydney adds the browned meats with juices, roasted tomato paste, and the tomatoes. We, Sydney and I, begin to add the seasoning; dried parsley, dried oregano, dried Italian seasoning, dried minced garlic, kosher salt, white and black pepper. Out of the corner of my eye I see Sydney adding about 1/4-cup red wine, this adds great flavor to the sauce!

Over a high heat with a long wooden spoon, we stir in the seasoning, and wait for the sauce to heat to a boil. Once the sauce is at a nice moderate boil the heat is turn down to a simmer and about every 30-45 minutes Df stirs the sauce, making sure to reach the bottom of the pot, so it doesn't burn.
In about 3 hours or so Sydney and I redo the seasoning and taste. This sauce truly is a Noto affair, we always have an incredible prodigious time. DF helps out so that we can cook chicken stock too, plus all the baking we need to do! This is one of my favorite times in the kitchen we are all together enjoying each other's company, its one of several times we can get the whole unit in the kitchen for the entire day.
Noto Italian Sauce
While the sauce is simmering it is now time to start the chicken stock, DF has the job of cleaning the chicken. For this stock we use two whole roasting chickens, 3 pounds of chicken wings, and 2 breast halves. Sydney and I prepped the mirepoix, (onions, carrots, and celery) aromatics of thyme, parsley, dill, grey salt, kosher salt, white and black peppercorns. I have a secret ingredient: dry white wine , I pour the wine over the mirepoix, aromatics, and chicken, the wine lends a new depth of flavor to the whole stock!
I then add enough water to cover everything, bring the stock pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and skim the foam about every 15 to 20 minutes.
What a trooper, DF and the Chicken
Generally the stock simmers for a good 4 hours, so even though it looks a"tad" hectic to cook an Italian sauce and stock, it really is not. Cooking both simultaneous in the long run saves time, besides on a snowy cold Colorado day we have a wonderful time bonding as a family!
Though out the year we prepare both the sauce and the stock; about every four months.  November is my favorite of all the times, this is when we prepare the sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We use the sauce for lasagna, and the stock is for mixing with turkey stock for Thanksgiving gravy and Christmas trimmings. The sauce defiantly does not go to waste, we use it for a multitude of Italian dishes!
For our family it is the start to the holidays!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Tale of Two Cakes part 2

The DF birthday week has reached it's conclusion, DF will finally have his "Boston Cream Pie." The celebration week started with a scrumptious Chocolate Genoise Cake with a Raspberry Crème Fraiche filling covered in a Marshmallow Meringue Frosting and completely glazed with a Shiny Chocolate Ganche.

DF has been waiting an entire year for his Boston Cream Pie, though he has yet to "meet" a cake he does not like, Boston Cream Pie is his favorite.
I actually thought this cake would fit
on this cake plate,
I guess the joke is on me!
The traditional Omni Parker House Boston Cream Pie is a sponge cake layered with a silky smooth pastry cream covered with chocolate fondant and spiraled with royal icing. I adapted DF's cake on the original recipe, with some changes. DF is not a fondant lover so I covered the cake in a bittersweet ganache, the spiral was done with white chocolate.
10x2-inch round cake
cut in half
Sydney and I started preparing the cake two days prior to DF's birthday. I wanted each component of this cake to be as close to prefect as "Bobbie" possible. Sydney and I were working so diligently I began to ponder why is this wonderful cake called a pie? Believe it or not I went to bed still deliberating this question, since sleep would not come I jumped on the internet to research. There were many sites that claimed to have the answer, however the answers were all different. If anyone knows the true answer PLEASE let me know!
Our mise en place
The cake develops it's light texture and flavor from the egg yolks and egg whites, it is also what causes the cake to rise. There is no need for a leavener, eggs will do all the work. Between the pastry cream and the cake your egg quota will be met for the entire week! Of course DF believes that means Boston Cream Pie can be eaten as a breakfast food. Sydney disagrees, the debate has been set. In truth its not so much that Sydney thinks eating cake for breakfast is unhealthy; she just would like to see her dad eat other food groups. Since I have never been one to give labels to food categories, I say let him eat cake for breakfast..After all it is his birthday!
I must confess I love birthday week, I can bake and eat a new treat or pastry everyday. Besides aiding to my sweet tooth satisfaction, the achievement and self gratification that consumes my heart and soul is why birthday week has become so important during the years. Being able to convey to my small family how special they are to me is indescribable (take note I am hardly ever at a lost for words).
I based my Boston Cream Pie off of the Omni Parker House Boston Cream Pie, however I did a little more than just adapted the recipe. I thought it might be fun for you to have the original recipe, and than make your own cake changes!
Here is the Original Recipe, with out any changes:
For Sponge Cake:
7 eggs, separated
8 ounces sugar
1 cup flour
1 ounce melted butter
For Assembly:
4 ounces toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In two bowls, separate egg yolks, and whites. Add 1/2 of the sugar to each bowl. Beat both until peaked. When stiff, fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Gradually add flour, mixing with a wooden spatula. Mix in the butter. Pour this mixture into a 10 inch greased cake pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until spongy and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool firmly.
Left to Right: Egg white, Egg yolk ribbons
Center bottom: The fold!
For Pastry Cream:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups milk
2 cups light cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 eggs
1 teaspoon dark rum
For the chocolate fondant icing:
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup sliced almonds
To make the pastry cream, combine the butter, milk, and light cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the eggs and beat until ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Whisk into the hot-milk mixture and bring to a boil, whisking constantly (to prevent the eggs from scrambling) until the mixture has thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap (to keep a skin from forming).
Pastry Cream
Refrigerate for several hours. Whisk in the rum.
To make the chocolate fondant icing, wipe a large cookie sheet (or marble slab) with a damp cloth. Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover and let boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and dip a pastry brush in cold water to wash down the sides of the pot; boil until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees), about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour onto the damp cookie sheet. Let it cool for 10 minutes, or until lukewarm. Using a metal spatula, spread the sugar mixture out and turn it over on itself until it starts to thicken and whiten. (It may be easier to knead the mixture with your hands). Continue kneading the sugar mixture until it is very stiff. Scrape it off the sheet, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate for several hours.
To assemble, heat 3/4 cup of the fondant and the chocolate in a double boiler until warm. Stir to a spreading consistency, adding a little water as necessary. Using a long serrated knife, slice the cake into 2 layers. Spread the pastry cream over the bottom layer, reserving approximately 1 cup of pastry cream to spread around the sides of the cake (to help the almonds adhere). Place the second layer of cake over the pastry cream and spread the reserved pastry cream around the sides of the cake. Top with the chocolate icing (work rapidly, since the icing sets very quickly) and press the almonds around the sides. Serve immediately at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 2 days and bring to room temperature before serving. (When refrigerated, the fudgelike icing becomes quite heavy and stiff).
Serves about 10.
The stages of
egg yolk ribbons
DF is not a fan of fondant (this needs to be reiterated), therefore I made a chocolate ganche. Poured the ganche into a measuring jug, and poured a double layer onto the cake, waiting for the first layer to set before pouring the second layer. I also made a white chocolate ganche and scooped it, using a rubber spatula, into a parchment paper cone and spiraled the white chocolate around the cake. I had left over Framboise Sugar Syrup, and was not going to let it go to waste, I brushed the remaining syrup on both sides of the sponge cake. DF loved the flavor, I think it will become apart of my Boston Cream Pie recipe.
DF's Boston Cream Pie
prior to him devouring
the entire cake!
Well maybe he shared it
with his unit..
As stated before this is the original recipe, not the recipe I actually created. This recipe has been apart of history for over 100 years, however if you would like my recipe please leave a message and I will be sure to e-mail it to you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Tale of Two Cakes part 1

For the last 23 years my family has had a wondrous tradition: each member of our family has a week of celebrating his or her birthday, (we refer to this tradition as "BIRTHDAY WEEK"). The actually story behind this fabulous tradition started with a blunder belonging to my husband, DF.

Without trying to bore you, the story goes like this: the first birthday of mine after my husband and I began living together (we were not married yet) happened to fall on a softball game my husband's team was playing. Instead of just asking if he could take me to dinner the next night, he promised to be home in time for an 8:00 reservation. He not only missed that timeline, but did not come home till long after 11:00. I had already gone to bed, after having a bowl of raisin brand and locking the bedroom door behind me. The next morning my husband was ready to give me the world, he finally had the idea of a birthday week. He would give me seven full days during my birthday for the rest of our lives! YES! I jumped on that particular idea. When we had Sydney the birthday week extended to each member.

Hawaii, many moons ago

This second week of November is my husband's birthday, and therefore his birthday week. I started the week with a 6-inch triple layer Chocolate Genoise Cake with a Raspberry Crème Fraiche filling covered in a Marshmallow Meringue Frosting and completely glazed with a Shiny Chocolate Ganche.

As Sydney and I began preparing our mise en place D F peeked around the corner asked in a five year old manner,"is that my Boston Cream Pie?" Laughing Sydney and I, in sync replied "no your actual birthday is seven days away." Confused DF, had not understood if we created his "BIG" birthday cake that early it would be stale by his special day. I guess I'll never have to worry about DF growing-up!

Are all husbands just big kids?

DF's favorite cake is Boston Cream Pie, which is not a pie at all, it is why I wanted to wait till his actually birthday to bake it. I knew he would love the Chocolate Genoise, he is a chocolateholic!

This cake was thought of during Thanksgiving last year, Sydney and I wanted to have a Chocolate dessert to serve with all the usually pies and cakes generally saved for that day in November. To our astonishment the cake was a giant hit. It wasn't that I thought it would not taste great, but my family generally expects the yam, apple, and cherry pies to be served for dessert. DF was the most enthusiastic of them all, he had two pieces, (a little bigger than the one above).

Due to his zealous attitude during Thanksgiving 2009, I thought I would start his birthday week with this cake. It seems daunting at first, but I promise it's not that tedious. In fact it is rather fun to bake!

Two-Six inch cakes were the
perfect size

Here is the recipe of all the components:

Bobbie’s Chocolate Génoise cake with Raspberry Sauce


28-grams/ 2-Tablespoons clarified beurre noisette
33 grams/ ¼-cup, plus 2 Tablespoons, sifted cocoa powder
68-grams/ 1/4-cup, plus, 1-1/2  teaspoons boiling water
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
2-teaspoon instant espresso powder
6 eggs/ about 300 grams
Pinch of salt
150-grams/ ¾ -cup superfine sugar
85-grams/ ¾ -cup, sifted cake flour, sifted 3 times
25-grams/ 1/8-cup cornstarch, optional

Preheat oven for 20 minutes at 176ºC. /350ºF. move the rack to the middle or the lower 2/3 of the oven.

Sift cake flour and cornstarch three times and set aside.

Line 2 6x2-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan heat butter on medium heat, as foam forms skim it off to clarify the butter. Watch the butter, so it does not burn, and heat till a deep brown color. Immediately strain through a sieve into a heat proof-measuring jug and keep warm.

In a mixing bowl combine cocoa powder, boiling water, instant espresso, and vanilla, stir or whisk well to create a smooth mixture, eliminating all lumps, set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Move standing mixer bowl over simmering water and continue to whisk eggs and sugar continuously till sugar is no longer grainy and candy thermometer reaches 110º-120ºF/ 40º-50ºC. Remove bowl from heat, place on a standing mixer with whisk attachment and beat on high speed till quadruple in volume and ribbons form when lifted. Turn the speed down to medium and continue to whip for a couple more minutes.

Remove ½ -cup of egg foam and temper it to cocoa mixture by whisking, with a balloon whisk. Gently fold cocoa egg mixture back into the batter.

Sift 1/3 of the flour to the foam using a rubber spatula and fold very gently, but thoroughly. When the color of the batter is just about uniform, fold the rest of the flour, retaining as much of the beautiful foam as possible. Spoon about 1 cup of the batter into warm clarified beurre noisette and fold until well blended. Spoon this beurre noisette mixture over the batter and fold in gently just till incorporated.

Pour immediately into prepared baba molds or cake pans, leaving ½ inch from the top. Place on a sheet pan (swing the pan in a “Frisbee jerk motion" around the counter top, this will prevent a dome from forming). Bake until cakes spring back when touched in the center, about 30 minutes for 2- 6 inch cakes.

When completely cool, run a knife around the sides to release the cakes and unmold it onto a rack; invert right side up onto parchment paper.

Framboise Sugar Syrup


119 grams/ ½-cup water
100 grams/ ½ -cup sugar
¼-cup crème de framboise

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a heavy bottom saucepan; cook till the sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup into a glass-measuring jug and add Framboise. Brush each layer of the cake with the Framboise syrup.

Raspberry Sauce
adapted from Ina Garten


2 half-pint package fresh raspberries
½-cup granulated sugar
¼-cup water
1-cup (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam
1½-Tablespoon Framboise liqueur

Place the package of raspberries, the granulated sugar, and ¼ -cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, fresh raspberries, raspberry jam, and Framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Crème Fraiche Raspberry Cream Filling


165 grams/ ¾-cup crème fraiche
330 grams/ 1½-cups heavy cream or mascarpone
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8grams/ 1 Tablespoons icing sugar
½ cup raspberry sauce

Instructions below.

Seven Minute Frosting 
There are several on the internet, or you may have your own, any would work for this cake.

Mirror Glaze
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Heavenly Cakes


59 grams/ 1/4 -cup water, ice cold
6 grams/ 1¾ -teaspoon powder gelatin
133 grams 2/3-cup superfine sugar
79 grams/ 1/3 cup water, room temperature
28 grams 1-Tablespoon, plus1-teaspoon light corn syrup
66 grams/ ¾-cup, plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
77 grams/ 1/3-cup heavy cream

Have a sieve suspended over a medium metal bowl.

Prepare the gelatin by pouring 59 grams of water into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the water, allow this to set for 5 to 6 minutes.

In small heavy bottom pan add water and sugar. Swirl or whisk till completely dissolved (this is a simple syrup) remove or turn heat off, whisk in corn syrup and cocoa powder until smooth, make sure to reach the corners of the pan. The mixture should be glossy.

Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula (heat proof). Place pan back on the medium-heat and cook stirring continuously, bring the mixture to a boil (88ºC/ 190ºF). Bubbles will just begin to “kiss” the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and pour through a metal sieve straining the chocolate mixture into the metal bowl. Cool the mixture slightly to about 50º -60 C/º120º-140ºF. Add the soften gelatin to the chocolate mixture and stir till the gelatin has dissolved and has no streaks.

Strain the entire mixture into a GLASS measure cup, with at least a  2 cup capacity. Stir gently and cool slightly to about 32ºC/88-90ºF.

Assemble the Cake

Cut one of the cooled Génoise cakes in 1/2 even layers, leave one of the two cakes as is. On a 6- inch cardboard circle place the uncut cake. Brush the top of the uncut cake with the framboise syrup.

In a VERY cold bowl, I used my standing mixer bowl, with the whisk attachment in the bowl put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer, pour cream and crème fraiche beat on medium speed till the lines from the whisk show in the crème mixture. Add vanilla and sift powder sugar over the top. Continue to beat on medium speed till the crème cream just about holds peaks.

Whisk ¼-cup  of the raspberry sauce into the crème fraiche keeping the speed at medium-low.  Add the remaining ¼ cup of the raspberry sauce into the crème cream. Keeping the speed on medium-low and then raise the speed to medium; whisk till the raspberry crème cream holds peaks.

Spread ½ the raspberry crème fraiche cream evenly over the uncut génoise. Moisten the first cut layer of the second cake with the framboise syrup place the cake moistened side down on top of crème cream layer, pressing gently to level it. Moisten the top of layer of the cut cake with the syrup and spread evenly the remaining half of the raspberry crème cream on top the cut layer. Moisten the second cut layer of the cake with framboise syrup place it on top of second layer of raspberry crème cream. Moistened the top of the final layer with the syrup again. (If there is left over syrup place in a jar seal tightly and place in refrigerator). Press lightly to set it in place. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the cake is having a chilly rest make the seven-minute frosting.

When the cake is nicely chilled remove from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place the cake on the decorating turntable; spread a heaping mound of seven minute frosting on the top of the cake. Spread the frosting around the side, smooth the frosting well, and place the frosted cake back in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to 24 hours.

Prepare your mise en place for the mirror glaze. This process will save you valuable time. Once ready start cooking the mirror glaze. While the glaze is cooling grab the waiting génoise.

When the glaze has cooled down pour over the cake and place in the refrigerator. The easiest way to glaze the cake, with the least mess follow what Rose describes in her book. Lay two pieces of tin foil on top of your work place turning the edges on the top layer of foil (leave the bottom one flat) now the glaze will not run down the side onto the floor, besides you may need to use the excess. Start by pouring the glaze in even circular motion in the middle of the cake allowing the glaze to “cascade” over the sides. Keep pouring in that circular motion till you are about 1- inch from the edge. Make sure the cake is evenly coated. If you need more of the glaze pour the pool of glaze collected on the foil back into the measuring jug and repeat the process till all of génoise is covered. Let the cake rest for about 30 minutes, or until the glaze is no longer dripping and serve.

Any left over cake can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I have found even days later the cake is still shiny, but Rose explains in her book how to bring the shine back if it happens to leave while in the refrigerator.


Happy Birthday
My H-Person!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Story of Pumpkin Pillows

I love when I have the opportunity to design a particular recipe for special people in my life. Last fall a friend of mine, Travis L, who actually is the pickiest adult eater I have ever encountered, asked me to bake pumpkin cookies for him.
I thought how simple, till he informed me he will only eat cookies that are soft, and by the way, he HATES pumpkin. Obviously I asked, "why would you ask me to bake pumpkin cookies if you dislike pumpkin?" He replied somebody had given him soft pumpkin cookies as a child (he is now 30 years old). He claimed" the cookies were the most amazing thing he had ever tasted, and has yet been able to duplicate the flavor." The pressure is on: not only do I need to compose a new recipe, but one that brings back a childhood memory!

I started by questioning Travis on the flavors he might remember, all he could recall is the cookies were soft. I already knew that much. So now I had to duplicate a cookie, that I had no idea of the taste or aroma. I went home that night perplexed and challenged.

Later in the evening Sydney and I discussed ideas, ingredients, and of course softness. We decided on Whoopie Pie Cookies, I was actually trying to have a cake-like texture in a cookie, which would make the cookies soft. Now the softness issue was taken care of HOORAY!  The flavors and spices were the next item to tackle, normally I would have thought of pumpkin pie, but Travis hates pumpkin. I settled on using ginger and cinnamon for the spices, I still had fall flavors without going too far into a typical  pumpkin dessert. The remaining ingredients were fairly simple, they are in most cookies and cakes.
Since whoopie pie cookies are "drop" cookies I pulled out my teaspoon ice cream scoop, I wanted them to be bite size and this was the perfect solution. A 1-inch to 1.5-inch (1.5 is an actually teaspoon). They make about 64 to 72 mini Pumpkin Cookies.
                      Mini Ice Cream Scoop

Pumpkin Whoopies Pies of course are not a new concept, I needed to design a recipe that didn't taste like a pumpkin cookie. I knew I had the correct taste when Sydney and my nephew fell in love with the cookies, they actually began eating the cookies prior to being filled. Sydney had never enjoyed any pumpkin dessert before these treats! I furthermore hoped pumpkin lovers would enjoy the cookies too, my husband became the "guinea pig" (he loves everything pumpkin).. Eureka.. he loved them!
 To hot move

As Sydney waited for the cookies to cool down, I realized neither Sydney nor Travis cared for the flavor of cream cheese. Mascarpone cheese was what we decided to use for the filling, this wonderful cheese from the Lombardy region of Italy, has a silky taste without the tang of American cream cheese.

The cookies were created, now they needed a name. It was actually my husband who gave their name. He declared the cookies were like biting into a cloud. As we were sitting at the table looking at these cookies I realized they resembled tiny pillows. Pillows? Clouds? pretty close, now we had the name pumpkin pillows! 

This is the recipe and filling, I hope you enjoy!

Pumpkin Pillow Cookies

120 grams/1-cup all-purpose flour, sifted
119 gams1-cup, plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour, sifted
5 grams/1-teaspoon baking powder
2 grams/1/2 -teaspoon baking soda
3 grams/1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 grams/½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
113 grams/½ cup butter, softened
150 grams/ ¾ cups granulated sugar
147 grams/ ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
425 grams/15 ounces 100% Pure Pumpkin, 1 small can
1-teaspoon vanilla extract

Mascarpone Cheese Filling:

57 grams/ 4-Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
116 grams/ ½-cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
28 grams/2-Tablespoons heavy cream
120 grams/1-cup icing sugar
½-teaspoon vanilla extract
1-teaspoon orange zest

For cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in medium bowl and set aside.  

In a standing mixer with paddle attachment beat butter for 1 minute. Add granulated sugar, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes and then add the brown sugar continue to beat until the mixture is a creamy consistency. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until combined. 

Drop by a scant measuring mini ice cream scoop or teaspoon onto prepared baking sheets. 

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For Mascarpone filling: 

Beat mascarpone cheese, butter, orange zest, and vanilla extract in a small mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cream and continue to beat till desired constancy.

Spread a heaping teaspoon or fill a bag with an open star tip and pipe the filling onto the flat side of one cookie; top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Once the Pumpkin Pillows were completely composed and ready to be packaged for Travis L panic set in..What if he hated them? What if they had not brought long ago memories from childhood? Sydney grabbed me with respect yet sternly and proclaimed "GET A GRIP!" 

As I relaxed, put the cookies in a box, put the box in the car, Sydney and I drove them to Travis. With an immense amount of new born confidence I proudly handed Travis his box of cookies.

About three hours later, I received a charming and gracious text not only thanking me, but pleasantly surprised the flavor and aroma of a Pumpkin Pillow could recall blissful childhood memories. The prodigious fact I could bring forth happy memories caused me to be grateful! Now these Pumpkin Pillows are a growing tradition, every fall I bake these cookies and bring some to Travis L and some stay home so my family can enjoy a few! Happy Fall!