Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

IMG_0245I was cleaning out all of my old USBs and deleting a lot of files when I found pictures of this pumpkin pecan cake with brown butter icing hidden away in a file. I realize that this is more of a cake I should be sharing with you in the fall or  early winter (just like these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting!) but I couldn’t handle the thought of waiting 8 or 9 months just to share this with you. So here it is in all its glory! This layered cake has a nice, warm pumpkin pecan flavour that is jazzed up with a bit of orange zest. The cake layers are sandwiched with candied pecans and brown butter icing (the icing alone is enough reason to make this cake) and the whole thing is covered with more icing and pecans!  You don’t have to coat the sides of the cake with candied pecans like I did, but I had enough pecans to do so and I didn’t like the way the icing looked plain anyways. This cake was a hit and even if you don’t have plans to bake it now, it’s definitely a cake to bookmark for next fall!
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Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups packed, light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups unbleached cake and pastry flour
½ cup ground toasted pecans
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp each ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice
1 tsp orange zest
½ cup buttermilk

For the Icing:
½ cup unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
1¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 cups (500 mL) chopped candied pecans** (plus more for garnish)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease sides of two 9-inch (1.5-L) round metal cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk fl our, ground pecans, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest. Stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of wet. Scrape into pans; smooth. Bake in the centre of oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off paper. Invert; let cool.

For icing, in a large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let stand until the little bits sink to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to freezer and chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Scrape the top of the butter from the bits at the bottom; discard bits.

Transfer brown butter to bowl with the cream cheese and brown sugar. With an electric mixer beat until the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until incorporated and fluff y, 1 to 2 minutes.

To assemble the cake, brush any crumbs from cake layers. Cut each in half horizontally. Place 1 layer, cut-side up on cake plate. Spread with about ¾ cup (175 mL) of the icing. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup (125 mL) of the candied pecans. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining layer, cut-side down. Spread entire cake with a scant cup of the icing to mask. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. Spread cake with remaining icing and decorate with remaining pecans.

** to make candied pecans:
Yields: 2 cups of candied pecans

Ingredients:
1 large egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raw pecan halves

Directions:
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until the whites have foamed into small white bubbles. Add sugar, spices, and salt.  Whisk until thick and opaque. Add pecans and toss to coat. Once thoroughly coated, spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet. Leave any extra coating in the bowl.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and toasted golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

—SOURCE—
cake from Food&Drink magazine, candied pecans slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

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Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_0069Is it too early to start showing you pictures of desserts with frosting that looks so rich and dreamy you just want to reach through the screen and have a taste? Or is it too late to share any recipes that feature pumpkin? The answer as I have so clearly decided is no and definitely not! Who says you can only enjoy pumpkin from October till December? I’m pretty sure canned pumpkin is available in grocery stores year round and while pumpkin pie in the summer may seem a bit absurd and probably the last thing you would crave in the sweltering heat, right now there’s a whole lot of snow on the ground (at least where I am) and all I want is the comforting flavour of pumpkin cake topped with just the right amount of the silkiest cream cheese frosting. Plus I went to the gym today so that totally justifies this dessert!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
For the cake batter:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat on medium heat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the cake batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Spread atop the bars and cut into squares.

—SOURCE—
Espresso and Cream, adapted slightly from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

One of the things I always look forward to as the weather gets cooler are the seemingly endless variations of pumpkin flavoured baked goods. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie, it’s quite possibly my favourite type of pie, so these creamy pumpkin pie bars are like perfection to me! These bars incorporate the classic pumpkin pie flavour that I’ve always adored into an almost cheesecake-like filling, sandwiched between a crumbly crust and topping. I think the filling to crust ratio is just perfect,  and the pumpkin flavour really shines through in this dessert. A perfect way to satisfy that pumpkin pie craving without the hassle of baking a whole pie!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Yield: makes 9 bars in a square 8×8-inch pan

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
9 roasted pecan halves for topping

Directions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and oats.  Add cold butter and quickly but thoroughly break the butter up into the dry ingredients.  When broken down, some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, others will be the size of oat flakes.  Add the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.

Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be our crumble topping.

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pliable.  This will help the cream cheese be less chunky when combined with the pumpkin.

Add pumpkin and sugar  to the softened cream cheese and beat on medium speed.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that the pumpkin and cream cheese are thoroughly combined.  If the cream cheese looks chunky, switch to the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until most of the cream cheese lumps are incorporated.

On medium speed add the egg and egg white.  Beat to combine (about 1 minute).  Add the spices, salt, and vanilla extract.  Beat to combine.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  I like to slice and serve these bars chilled.

To store, wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

 

Pumpkin Yogurt Parfaits

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I adore any baked goods that feature pumpkin, but had yet to try pumpkin puree in it’s raw form until these parfaits. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of pure pumpkin, but when it’s mixed with brown sugar and the right spices to make it sweeter and more pumpkin pie-like, I’m all over it. That’s why I’m in love with these pumpkin yoghurt parfaits, a fun and healthy snack or dessert!  I have tried these parfaits 2 separate times with plain and vanilla greek yoghurt, and found that with the plain greek yoghurt, I ended up drizzling a bit of maple syrup on top to sweeten it up a bit. Therefore I recommend using vanilla greek yoghurt! I also couldn’t find any whole graham crackers at my local grocery store and had to make do with graham cracker crumbs, but I’m positive that crushed graham crackers would really take these treats to a whole ‘nother level!

Pumpkin Yoghurt Parfaits

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
1 pkg (1/3 box) graham crackers

Directions:
Stir together the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar in a bowl.

Unwrap the graham crackers and place them in a gallon sized zip top bag. Crush the crackers with a rolling pin.

Layer the graham crackers, seasoned pumpkin puree, and yogurt into four containers. Feel free to create the layers in any order. My layers went as follows: graham, pumpkin, yoghurt, repeat.

Either enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days.

—SOURCE—
Budget Bytes

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

If I could be granted 3 wishes, this is what I would wish for:

1.) A bottle of pure happiness that I could give to anybody in the world. It would make all of their life, health, money, etc. problems go away.

2.) To be able to sprint like an Olympic athlete while wearing 4 inch heels the way Amanda Seyfried does in the movie In Time.

3.) To be able to listen to Christmas music non-stop starting from now all the way until Christmas without getting sick of it.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t get any of these wishes come true. That’s okay though, I’ll just tell you about these truffles 🙂

I’ve never made truffles before, but I wanted to make something spectacular and pumpkin-themed for a few special people. I figured go big, or go home right?

Well, let’s just say that several things did not go my way during the truffle-making procedure, and I was so close to ripping out my hair and completely losing it several times.

The first mistake I made was adding way too much pumpkin puree to the truffle base. I used the exact amount of ingredients listed in the below recipe, but when I test-tasted the result, I found that it tasted too much like white chocolate and barely like pumpkin. So I figured, why not add more puree right?  Well I ended up achieving the flavour I desired about 2/3 cup of pumpkin later, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that the white chocolate acts as a binder to the rest of the ingredients. So when I increased the pumpkin by a significant amount, the overall truffle wouldn’t freeze completely and therefore made it extremely difficult to coat smoothly.

The second mistake I made was melting all of the white chocolate I had (to dip the truffles in) at once. Once my truffles started to disintegrate when they touched the hot chocolate, the once smooth melted white chocolate became very clumpy.  At this point I didn’t have any white chocolate left and was freaking out. And then I decided to melt some dark chocolate to coat the remaining truffles, and all was well in the world.

My resulting truffles weren’t as beautiful or smooth and satiny as I had imagined. Instead they were clumpy and rather misshapen, but overall it was a good learning experience. They still tasted quite delicious, and I actually liked the dark chocolate coated ones just as much as the white chocolate ones.  If you do make these I hope you have better luck than I did and if you have made truffles before I would appreciate any tips you may have 🙂

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Yield: about 30 truffles
Ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 5 oz)
½ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup finely ground gingersnaps
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of orange zest
4 oz. cream cheese, softened

For dipping:
about 16 oz. chopped white chocolate, melted (or chopped dark chocolate)

For garnish:
Additional gingersnap crumbs

Directions:
To make the truffle filling, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water just until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Add the pumpkin, gingersnap and graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and cream cheese.  Mix well until completely blended and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator or freezer until it has thickened up enough to scoop and roll into balls (about 1 hour).

Scoop the filling mixture and roll into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.  Transfer to a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet.  Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and let chill until firm, about 2 hours.

When you are ready to dip the truffles, melt the white chocolate or candy melts for coating in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Once completely melted and smooth, carefully dip one of the balls of filling into the chocolate.  Turn quickly to coat and balance on the tines of a fork to shake off the excess.  Transfer to a lined baking sheet and sprinkle with additional gingersnap crumbs, if desired.  Repeat with the remaining filling balls.  Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator and chill until the coating is set.

Source: from Annie’s Eats, adapted from Whole Foods

Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies surprised me a little bit.

I was half expecting a crunchy, oatmeal cookie but instead I got a delightfully fluffy, moist cookie.

A whole batch of them, actually.

Not that I’m complaining, or anything..

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Dash of allspice
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.  Whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in the pumpkin puree until well incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Beat in the oats until combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries until evenly mixed.

Drop in small scoops (about 1½-2 tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2-3 inches apart.  Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.  Allow to cool on the sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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