iced pumpkin chocolate spice bundt cake

in the last couple years, more than ever, my mom goes all out for halloween. which is somewhat surprising, since my dad is a self proclaimed "never liker" of halloween and my sister and i were never all that into it growing up. but mom, somehow she has halloween fever.

and every year it's something new. usually based off the martha stewart living halloween issue - so much so that jason jokes when we're in the checkout at the grocery store that we should look through it to see a preview of their house.

and each year there's something equally as odd as the year before. this year, i got the request early in late september, so early i hadn't even thought about halloween yet. black snakes. black plastic snakes. or green ones she could spray paint black. to make a wreath.

needless to say the black snake wreath was missing from the party last night. but that rat, that fake rat grandma wasn't supposed to tell me about, was staring back at me in the bathroom. had i not known, it would have gotten me. good.

almost as good as it got jason last night, before he went to bed.

iced pumpkin chocolate spice bundt cake
cake adapted from eatingwell
1 hr 30 min, serves 16

for the cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
15 ounces unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (or 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons molasses)
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

for the pumpkin buttercream:
1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
  1. to make the cake, preheat your oven to 350F. spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray.
  2. whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. set aside.
  3. in a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin, and brown sugar until smooth. add the whole egg and egg white and mix until smooth. add oil, corn syrup, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. add the wet ingredients to the dry, and fold until combined, be careful not to overmix. transfer batter to the bundt pan and spread out evenly.
  5. bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer comes out almost clean. let cool in the pan about 15 minutes. remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
  6. while the cake cools, make the buttercream. whisk the pumpkin, butter, and cinnamon together. add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition, until all three cups of sugar have been added. the buttercream will be relatively thick, but still somewhat thin and spreadable.
  7. when the cake is cool, use a spoon to add dollops of buttercream evenly around the top of the cake. tap the buttercream with the back of the spoon until it starts to slide down the side of the cake. 
2012.10.08 this is crumb blog's pick for the secret recipe club!


spaghetti & meatballs

it's no secret that i'm not a huge fan of meatballs. silly, right? most of the time when i want pasta, i want the rich garlic sauce or the meaty mushrooms to come through. but there are a few times - when it finally feels chilly outside or it's hovering around freezing in february and there's a foot of new snow on the ground - when spaghetti and meatballs are the perfect food.

i've made them before the alton brown way by baking the meatballs individually in mini muffin cups. sounds clever. and easy. it turned into a big mess. the meatballs stuck to my muffin pan so more than half fell apart while i tried to scoop them out. and the outside doesn't brown the same as when they're sauteed. needless to say, it's a nice idea, it just didn't work so much for me.

so i switched back to the saute pan, cooking the meatballs in batches and monitoring their perfect brownness. just make sure they sit long enough to brown on each side before trying to move them, or they'll break in half.

spaghetti and meatballs
adapted from smittenkitchen, who adapted it from ina garten
serves 4, one hour

2 pounds meatloaf mix. for me, this was 15% pork, 5% veal, and 80% beef.
1 1/4 cups italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg beaten
olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
your favorite sauce
  1. to make the meatballs, mix the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, and egg in a medium bowl. add about 3/4 cup water to bring the mixture together.
  2. use your hands to form into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. you should have around 24.
  3. in a large saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat.
  4. when the olive oil is heated, add half the meatballs. let brown about 3-4 minutes, turn, and continue cooking and turning until all sides are brown. cook the other half in the same way.
  5. now is a good time to start your pasta water and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  6. when the meatballs are done, add your favorite sauce to the pan. set the meatballs in the sauce, cover, and simmer about 25 minutes. serve with spaghetti and parmesan cheese.


perfect caramel sauce

if you haven't caught on yet, i'm a sucker for sweets.

cakes. cupcakes. bars. cookies. scones. ice cream. jam. i love them all. but nothing is better andhas been more difficult to tackle than caramel.

first thing's first: i never realized how unbelievably simple caramel is. melt some sugar. let it brown. add some butter and some heavy cream. done. you should have seen my face when i realized i could make this stuff at home. why it always the simple things that get me?

but it's come with it's own set of struggles. and i know, i know. every recipe i've consulted comes with a warning - don't let it cook too long or the sugar will burn. swirl the pan, don't stir, or the sugar will crystallize into a huge mess. be careful when adding the butter and cream. or my favorite - as tempting as it seems, don't lick the spoon!

with all the warnings, it's a miracle anyone tries to make this, let alone does it successfully. after several botched attempts - burnt sugar, clumpy, crystallized messes - i finally did it. the perfect, thin, creamy, vanilla salty goodness. success!

but then, i got greedy. or was it cocky? while searching for a good recipe through my cookbook collection, it was a tossup between this version from the joy of cooking and david liebovitz's from ready for dessert. even though i made the joy of cooking version, i decided since i had 1/2 cup of heavy cream left (the perfect amount to make a half batch of david's rich caramel sauce), i would have a caramel taste off. perfect! until i burnt the sugar. bad. so bad it was inedible. bummer, because i really want to try his sauce too - it has the same sugar, butter, heavy cream ingredients, but cooks the sugar in melted butter, instead of adding the butter once the sugar is melted.

so my words of advice: good luck. and don't let the sugar get too brown.

tips for making caramel from real experts:
david liebovitz's ten tips for making caramel & how to make the perfect caramel
smitten kitchen's deep dark salted butter caramel sauce
baked bree's step by step caramel sauce
pioneer woman's ice cream pie with easy caramel sauce

perfect caramel sauce

adapted from the joy of cooking
20 minutes, makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, diced (1 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
  1. in a sauce pan with high sides, cook the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar melts completely and the mixture is clear, about 5 minutes.
  2. when the sugar is completely melted, turn the heat up to medium high. when the syrup comes to a boil, cover it, and cook about 2 minutes.
  3. remove the cover and continue to cook until the edges turn light brown., between 5 and 10 minutes. don't let it go too long, or the caramel will burn.
  4. remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter until melted. be careful - the sugar will splatter when the butter is added (that's why you're working with a pan with high sides).
  5. when the butter is melted, add the heavy cream and stir until smooth. if the mixture is a little lumpy, put over low heat and stir continuously until smooth.
  6. add the vanilla extract and salt and mix well.
  7. serve warm and store in the refrigerator. a quick 45 second spin in the microwave melts it back to pouring consistency.


peanut butter iced banana scones

got a blackened banana sitting in your fruit bowl? sick of making banana bread. or bars?

yea, me too.

which brings me to tuesday evening. last week when i whipped up these pumpkin scones, i had a simple thought - what other fruits and vegetables could i replace the pumpkin with? seemed easy enough. i wanted something simple that could be made all year round, because let's face it, pumpkin only comes around once a year. and who really wants a pumpkin scone in may? not this girl.

so the banana scone was born. perfectly moist. perfectly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

and oh, the peanut butter. the peanut butter glaze is the best part. don't skip it!

peanut butter iced banana scones
inspired by pumpkin spice scones
30 minutes, makes 16 small scones

for the scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup (about 1 regular size) mashed, super ripe banana
3 tablespoons half & half
1 egg, beaten

for the peanut butter glaze
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons milk
  1. preheat oven to 425F and line a sheet pan with parchment or use a silicone baking mat.
  2. whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices together in a large bowl. using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly, similar to really coarse sand.
  3. in a separate bowl, whisk the banana, half & half, and egg together.
  4. add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.
  5. turn the dough out onto a cutting board (it shouldn't be wet enough to stick to the board, but if it does, add a bit of flour). form into a loose ball and flatten into a rectangle about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. cut into quarters and cut each quarter into quarters (for 16 total scones) and place (so they aren't touching each other) on the baking sheet.
  6. bake about 10 minutes, until light brown. cool on a wire rack.
  7. while the scones cool, make the glaze. whisk the peanut butter and sugar together. slowly add the milk a teaspoon at a time, making sure to blend in each teaspoon before adding more, until it runs off the whisk. drizzle over scones when cool.


deep dish apple pancake

i first found this recipe in an old everyday with rachael ray magazine a couple years ago. and every year since i make it at least once, on a saturday morning, when the first apples are finally available.

i like it because i don't have to fumble around making pancakes, worrying if each one will become a burnt mess of a breakfast. sure, you can arrange the apples all nice in the pie plate, but who cares? i like it better all haphazard, apples going every which way, especially when drenched in syrup.

mmm i bet this would be excellent with pears too...

deep dish apple pancake

adapted from rachel ray
30 minutes, serves 4

2 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup pancake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
  1. preheat your oven to 450F.
  2. combine the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. add half to the apples and mix to coat. set aside the remaining half.
  3. coat a round pie plate with nonstick spray. add the apples, cover with plastic wrap (try to wrap it so an end of the plastic sticks out, so you can uncover the dish easier when the apples are cooked), and cook in the microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, until soft. be very careful when removing the plastic wrap from the cooked apples. the steam will be super hot, and you will burn your thumb. trust me on this one.
  4. while the apples are cooking, combing the 1 tablespoon sugar, pancake mix, eggs, and milk until smooth.
  5. when the apples are done, uncover, and add the pancake mix. sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. bake uncovered for 10 - 12 minutes, or until light brown. let cool in the pan a couple minutes, or the juices from the apples will run when you slice it. serve with warm maple syrup.


chai (+ mini wedding cake)

a year ago today, i had the most amazing wedding.

the best food. the best friends. the best family.

i married my best friend.

and went to the best party i'll ever go to. ever.

this year was different.

instead of dancing the night away, we hiked through the woods, checking out the fall colors.

and instead of a three tier, lemon soaked raspberry and fudge filled masterpiece

we snacked on our own mini version while watching saturday night live

instead of nibbling on hand passed bites and drinking the night away,

we sipped homemade chai with pancakes and eggs in our pajamas.

and as much as we joke "too bad we can't get married every year", life isn't the party. not the dress. or the flowers. or the cake. or even the music. it's the lazy sunday mornings sharing homemade pancakes with the one you love. and you wouldn't trade it for anything.

chai tea

adapted from joy of cooking
makes 2 small servings, 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups milk (use whatever kind you have in your house)
2 tablespoons sugar
8 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon good quality black tea (or two tea bags)
  1. in a medium saucepan, bring the water, milk, sugar, and spices to a boil. cover and let sit 20 minutes.
  2. bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the tea, remove from heat, and let steep about 2 minutes. strain and serve hot.


pumpkin spice scones

got some canned pumpkin leftover from one of the other 15974116 pumpkin recipes you've made (or have book marked to make) already? then whip up these scones!

and if you're thinking to yourself "hm, i hope these taste like those scones from that-super-fancy-seattle-based-coffee-shop" then you're wrong. they don't. they're a million times better. soft and super moist with the perfect blend of spices. like the cupcakes, only in breakfast form.

i love a good scone. and for me, the perfect one is thick - at least two inches tall. instead of rolling and cutting with a biscuit cutter, i form the dough into a small and tall circle and then cut into wedges. there's nothing worse than a pancake scone.

pumpkin spice scones
adapted from almost every pumpkin scone recipe i found online
30 minutes, makes 8

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3 tablespoons half & half
1 egg, beaten
  1. preheat oven to 425F and line a sheet pan with parchment or use a silicone baking mat.
  2. whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and all spices together in a large bowl. using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly, similar to really coarse sand.
  3. in a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin, half & half, and egg together.
  4. add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.
  5. turn the dough out onto a cutting board (it shouldn't be wet enough to stick to the board, but if it does, add a bit of flour). form into a loose ball and flatten into a circle about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. cut into eight wedges and place (so they aren't touching each other) on the baking sheet.
  6. bake 12-15 minutes, until light brown. cool on a wire rack. drizzle with spice glaze when cool.

spice glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (a splash) of milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. whisk the sugar and spices together. add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time until thin enough to not completely hold it's shape. drizzle over cooled scones.


creamy tomato soup

now i know for sure it's fall.

friday night, with a million food choices (ok, maybe not a million, but enough) i only wanted a grilled cheese and tomato soup. nothing more or less.

flash forward two days and finally, the perfect fall comfort meal was mine. coupled with a grilled cheese - half gruyere and cheddar, grilled on the foreman for about 3 minutes - it was perfect.

i think i'm going to have to breakdown and buy the america's test kitchen cookbook, because that's where i seem to be ending up a lot lately, and this one is no different. the recipe is a bit unlike other tomato soups i've made - canned tomatoes are roasted in the oven, added to stock and tomato juice, and finished with cream and sherry. the original post by deb at smitten kitchen says to drain the tomatoes and use your hands to remove the seeds. after following this method for half the tomatoes, i gave up trying to get all the seeds out (there really aren't many), and just crushed them with my hands before roasting. i didn't notice the seeds at all, especially since the soup is blended smooth at the end. and like deb, it was perfect without any additional salt or pepper.

creamy tomato soup
adapted from smittenkitchen, who adapted it from the america's test kitchen cookbook
1 hour, serves 4-6

2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large shallots, minced
pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry
  1. preheat your oven to 450F. use your hands to break up the tomatoes to release any juice from them. lay the tomatoes in a single layer in a 9 by 13 inch pan. sprinkle with brown sugar and bake about 30 minutes, until the water has been cooked off. remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. when the tomatoes have 10 minutes left to roast, saute the shallots and allspice in the butter over medium heat until soft, about 7 minutes. sprinkle flour over the shallots and cook until the flour is browned, about 30 seconds. gradually add the chicken stock, whisking to ensure there aren't any flour lumps. mix in the reserved tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes.
  3. bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 10 minutes. using an immersion blender or traditional blender, blend the soup until smooth. return to the pan on low heat.
  4. add the cream and sherry immediately before serving.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...