maple yam-ginger pie

I thought I’d sneak in one more post before Thanksgiving, just in case you still need a recipe. This one goes out to all of my vegan homies. I feel like vegetarians get the short end of the stick on Thanksgiving. So I’m giving back in the form of pie.

The first time I made this pie was last year, a few days before Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Nothing about it indicates that it’s 100% dairy free. The filling is smooth and silky, with hints of ginger and cinnamon.

Can we just talk about the crust for a minute? Initially, I was skeptical about the crust because it sagged a little while par baking. But all of my doubts vanished after my first bite. This crust is outstanding. It’s crisp and slightly nutty thanks to its coconut oil base and a little bit of whole wheat pastry flour. It is certainly in the running for my favorite pie crust.

If you like ginger like I do, a little candied or crystalized ginger is really nice alongside this pie. Just make sure to leave a little room in your belly. And have yourself a marvelous Thanksgiving.

maple yam-ginger pie

adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry

makes 1 9-inch pie

for the crust:

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons raw cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

7 tablespoons solidified coconut oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup ice water

for the filling:

2-1/2 pounds garnet yams

2 cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons agar flakes

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

candied or crystalized ginger (optional)

for the crust:

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the solid coconut oil to the bowl and rub it into the dry mix with your fingers until it resembles small pebbles.

Add the vinegar to the ice water. Drizzle the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing as you add it.  Stop adding water when the dough holds together when squeezed. Do not add more water than necessary.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a bowl and then flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the yams all over with the tines of a fork. Place the yams on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator after 45 minutes and allow it to warm to room temperature. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pie plate. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate. Trim the edges with a knife. Make a decorative edge by pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times. Transfer to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. If your crust begins to shrink or sag significantly, gently press it back into shape with the back of a wooden spoon. When the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let boil. Add the agar flakes and the ginger and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring often, until the agar dissolves. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract and simmer for an additional minute. Turn off heat.

Add the yams, agar mixture, cinnamon, nutmeg, arrowroot, and sea salt to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until cream and smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is firm.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours, or until the pie has firmed up. Serve each slice with some candied ginger.


Dear fancyfoodfancy,

Happy 2nd Blogiversary! I can hardly believe that you’re already two.

My, have you grown since those early days. We have seen countless sticks of butter, at least one hundred pounds of sugar, occasional disasters, a handful of masterpieces, and thousands of photographs. What fun it has been!

Thank you for keeping me in line and inspired these past two years. Here’s to another year of doing what you love most. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Stay fancy.



devil’s food cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting

from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

makes 32 cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 cup hot water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1-1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

2-1/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

for chocolate ganache frosting:

1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2-1/3 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three standard muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 5-7 minutes. (If the mixture is taking too long to cool, you can place the bowl in an ice bath and stir for a few minutes.)

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each addition.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

for the chocolate ganache frosting:

Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.

Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).

Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring).

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting.

chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate

Stop what you’re doing. Head out to the market. Pick out a few fuyu persimmons. A pomegranate. Some good looking chicory greens – a curly endive, a radicchio perhaps. Let’s have a salad.

Persimmons are fantastic in salads. I might be biased because they’re definitely a favorite of mine; this entire site was pretty much born out of my love for persimmons, particularly the fuyu variety. Persimmons are what make the transition from fall to winter bearable. I’ve been eating at least one a day or the past few weeks.

I digress. Let’s get back to this salad.

Whisk together a light vinaigrette, preferably something citrus based. Add a few crumbles of blue cheese. Pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

What you’ll end up with is a lovely autumnal salad with a variety of textures and flavors – crunchy, sweet persimmons, slightly tart and juicy pomegranate seeds, salty, creamy blue cheese, hearty chicories. If you’re not a persimmon fan, try it with pears. Not into blue cheese? How about a little feta instead? Use your imagination and make it your own. It is a perfect first course. A very nice light lunch. A snack. You can’t go wrong.

chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate

serves 4

8 cups chicory greens, torn into medium pieces ( I like a combination of curly endive and radicchio) 

2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced

1 large pomegranate, seeds reserved

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

citrus vinaigrette

In a large bowl, combine greens, persimmons and pomegranate seeds. Pour enough vinaigrette into the bowl to lightly coat your salad and toss gently. Add more if necessary. Add blue cheese and serve. Voila!

citrus vinaigrette

3 tablespoons lemon or grapefruit juice or a citrus flavored vinegar

6 tablespoons oil (I like grapeseed or walnut oil)

kosher or coarse sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

Pour juice or vinegar in a small bowl. Add a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper and whisk. Continue whisking, and slowly pour oil into the bowl in a thin stream. Whisk until emulsified. Taste vinagrette and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.


candied orange peel and orangettes

As promised, a recipe for candied orange peel to go along with that pumpkin layer cake.

If you’re a citrus person, you will love candied orange peel. It’s the grown-up version of Orange Slices, the orange-shaped gummies that you find at gas stations and the candy aisle of Walgreen’s. Real candied orange is a little less sugary and just a touch bitter with a pure orange flavor.

In my opinion, homemade candied orange is far superior to what you’ll find in most stores. And it’s easy to make with the help of a candy thermometer. And a little bit of patience.

Speaking of candy thermometers, I’ve graduated to the world of digital candy thermometers. I broke two glass thermometers this past year, so I figured I would go digital. I chose this one based on its ability to read a broad range of temperatures, which makes it perfect for tempering chocolate, deep frying, and candy making.

I absolutely loved the candied orange on the pumpkin layer cake, but I think it would also be a really lovely served with a chocolate cake, or maybe even a custard or pudding. It adds a nice contrasting texture and citrusy brightness. And the sugar coated orange is very pretty when sliced thin. You might also consider dipping them in melted dark chocolate for orangettes. Totally addictive. And the perfect late afternoon pick-me-up or after dinner treat.

candied orange peel

adapted from

makes about 1/2 cup peels

2 thick skinned Valencia or navel oranges

2-1/4 cups sugar + 1/2 cup for rolling

3/4 cup water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 2 more times. Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 3/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes. If using a candy thermometer, it will be at the soft thread stage, 230-234° F. Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Remove peels from syrup and transfer to a plate of sugar (save the syrup for ice tea). Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack for 2-4 hours. Return to the sugar to store.


1/2 cup candied orange peels

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped ( I like 70%)

Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet and set aside.

Place 2/3 of the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water and stir often, making sure not to let any steam or moisture come in contact with the chocolate. Continue until chocolate is completely melted and has reached a temperature of 110-120°F. Remove from heat and add the reserved chocolate and stir until it cools to 90°F.

Dip candied orange 2/3 into melted chocolate and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Place the dipped peel on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining peels. Leave dipped peels on the lined baking sheet until the chocolate has set. Carefully remove the peels from the parchment and transfer to an airtight container.

pumpkin layer cake with caramel cream cheese frosting

It’s really starting to feel like November around here. Just the other day I was musing about how sunny and glorious it was as I crossed the Bay Bridge on my way home from work. And now I’m wearing leg warmers in bed.

November. Goodbye, daylight. Hello, scarves and coats and extra layers. Goodbye, stone fruit and tomatoes. Hey there, pumpkin recipes.

This one caught my attention as I was flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit Desserts, in search of a cake to bake for Rodney’s birthday. It sounded promising – pumpkin and spices and a caramel cream cheese frosting. And it was good. But it needed a little bit of a boost. So I made it a second time and doubled up on the spice and added an extra spoonful of sugar, which seemed to do the trick.

I wish I could tell you that this cake is full of pumpkin flavor. But it’s not. It’s a subtle pumpkin cake, which makes it an excellent platform for this insane caramel cream cheese frosting. And candied orange. Seriously, the caramel cream cheese frosting is a winner on its own; it’s like your favorite cream cheese frosting, but with a deepness and complexity that only caramel can provide. And the candied orange adds a bit of brightness and texture that really ties it all together. Something about this cake just screams autumn. It’s here. Get used to it.

pumpkin layer cake with caramel cream cheese frosting

adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts by Barbara Fairchild

serves 8-10

for the frosting:

4 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

for the cake:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1-1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

for the garnish:

candied orange peel*

*Candied orange peel is available seasonally at most grocery stores or year round at specialty shops. Or you can make it yourself. (I’ll post a recipe soon. Promise!)

For the frosting:

Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over bottom of small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Strain into small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.

Sift remaining powdered sugar into medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Cover and chill frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides, tapping out any excess flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide batter between the prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 33 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.

Using long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the bottom layer. Place second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating a smooth surface.

Sprinkle candied orange peel over top of cake. Cut into wedges and serve.

If you plan to make the cake in advance, cover with cake dome or large bowl and chill. Let stand at cool room temperature for 2 hours before serving. Can be made up to two days in advance.