PUMPKIN WEEK: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

*please excuse the pictures in this post.  I decided to make this cake at night after a few glasses of wine.  

Hello hello,

It’s time for another rendition of theme weeks and this week is brought to you by pumpkin!  (insert pumpkin foofaraw here)  Truth be told, it’s still 80 degrees in SoCal right now, so my mind is not registering “Pumpkin Week” quite yet.  However, in the spirit of team camaradarie, I decided to join the party with a pumpkin spice cake.

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I know you’re probably thinking, “Pumpkin spice cake?  Yawn.”  But let me tell you, this cake is a delicate balance of pumpkin, spices, and sweetness that you will want to add to your repertoire of “classic” recipes.

Now, in researching pumpkin spice cake, I found there were not many variations in recipes.  Some called for buttermilk or sour cream to moisten things up, but I felt like the pumpkin would create enough moisture on its own.  Other recipes went crazy on spices, but I wanted to let the pumpkin shine through.

This cake turned out perfect!  The cake was full of flavor and the sweetness of the maple frosting balanced with the spiciness of the cake.  I am definitely making this again for Thanksgiving.

For the cake, you will need:

  • 1.5 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside (flour, baking soda, salt, spices).

The finest of supermarket spices.

The finest of supermarket spices.

Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until combined.  Add eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.

wet pumpkin ingredients

Then add the canned pumpkin until just combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour batter into greased bundt pan (or use my pal, Comfortably Domestic’s handy baking pan conversion chart).  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (check with a toothpick).

pumpkin batter

For the frosting, you will need:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. maple syrup (I used the real maple syrup.  You might want to taste as you go if you are using the imitation stuff because it’s a little stronger.)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Wait until the cake has cooled completely.

Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and syrup together until creamy.

Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is as sweet as you would like.  I think I stopped at 3.5 cups, but I was eye-balling it.  I should stop doing that when I’m developing a recipe, but whatever.

Spread the frosting over the entire cake until it’s as perfect or messy as you like.  Mine was rather messy, as you can see.

frosted cake

-Mads

Please check out the other wonderful recipes for Pumpkin Week!

Monday:

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Streusel Bread

Tuesday:
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Pumpkin Pie Macarons
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Hazelnut Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Wednesday:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Mini No-Bake Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Crumble Topping
Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Pumpkin Marshmallows & Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Shanna @ Pineapple & Coconut – Creamy Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

Thursday:
Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing & Candied Pepitas
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Friday:
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Savory Pumpkin Tart
Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Pumpkin Mousse with Candied Squash
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Saturday:
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Scones
Monica @ The Grommom – Pumpkin Ice Cream

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Perfect Fudge Brownies

Last week a group of food bloggers threw an internet bake sale to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  Through generous bids, we ended up raising a total of $1,680!  
 
I made “Perfect Fudge Brownies” for the event and I’ve listed the recipe below. 
 
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Since I deemed them “perfect”, I had to go through MANY iterations of these brownies before I actually “perfected” the recipe.  I called in my food blog pals to assess why the first few attempts were so cakey (too much leavening with baking powder).  Then I had to remove eggs and add chocolate to increase the fudge factor.  It really was a process. Finally I found the winner!  These bad boys are fudgey, chocolatey, gooey perfections of your traditional brownie.
 
You will need:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp pre-made coffee 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 scant cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9″ baking pan.

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.  Set aside. 

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In a large bowl mix sugar and eggs.  Add coffee, vanilla, and slightly cooled chocolate mixture. 

Combine cocoa, flour, and salt in a separate bowl.

Slowly add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture until completely combined.  

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Pour batter into greased pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine took exactly 27 minutes).  

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Once cooled, you can top with powdered sugar or frosting.  I prefer them plain and still warm from the oven.  Mmmmm

Thank you to everyone who shared and participated in the bake sale!  
 
-Mads

Bake Sale Day!

Hello team,

Today is…drumroll please…BAKE SALE DAY!!!!

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Click image to open a new window for the bake sale!

As you have already heard, I’m raising money in a Bake Sale via the internet for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  You can bop over to Megan’s blog to see all of the wonderful and delicious prizes from cookies to brownies to signed cookbooks by some of your favorite bloggers!

I made these perfect fudge brownies and a big ole box of them could be yours!

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It’s easy to win.  Megan explains it all on her site.  Go there now.  Start the bidding!

-Mads

Cookies for Crohn’s

My dear and lovely friend, Beka, is running her little booty off in a 1/2 marathon to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  In order to maximize giving to kids suffering from those awful diseases, she’s throwing a bake sale on the internet!  I don’t know what could possible go together better than gastrointestinal troubles and internet food porn.

Beka and Megan are hosting the event on Megan’s blog, Wanna Be A Country Cleaver.  Click over to check out all of the nummy bake sale treats we are auctioning off to the highest bidder!  Many bloggers have teamed up to bring you cookies, treats, autographed cookbooks, gift packages, and more!  Click over for more information about how to bid on and receive prizes.

I decided to contribute “Perfect Fudge Brownies” (please refrain from any Crohn’s and Colitis jokes for the remainder of this blog post or we’ll have a real mess on our hands).

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Since I deemed them “perfect”, I had to go through MANY iterations of these brownies before I actually “perfected” the recipe.  I called in my food blog pals to assess why the first few attempts were so cakey (too much leavening with baking powder).  Then I had to remove eggs and add chocolate to increase the fudge factor.  It really was a process.Finally I found the winner!  These bad boys are fudgey, chocolatey, gooey perfections of your traditional brownie.

If you’re interested in winning a whole big batch of these brownies, head on over to Megan’s page and bid!

Recipe to follow once the winners have been selected…

-Mads

CARAMEL WEEK: Caramel Banana Bread Pudding

Welcome to CARAMEL WEEK!!!  This week marks a momentous occasion when strong and courageous women bloggers stand up for what is good and holy in the world–caramel.

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I honestly could not be more excited for all of the delicious recipes from caramel week!  To think of all of the caramel taste testing that went on during recipe development is mind-boggling.  There was a lot of spoon-dipping and finger-licking in my kitchen alone!

It took me a surprisingly long time to decide on what to make, mainly because caramel anything is amazing.  A local restaurant serves an incredible bananas foster bread pudding, so I thought a riff on that might be fun to try.  Boy, am I glad I did!  This caramel banana bread pudding is The Taste.

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I always start my recipe development by scouring the internet and cookbooks for recipes similar to what I’m planning on making.  I usually check Foodgawker.com, FoodNetwork.com, America’s Test Kitchen, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and whatever other books I have lying around.Ingredients

Once I’ve found a few favorites, I examine the ingredients in each, decide upon what I think would taste the best, and what my ratios should look like.  I really liked the idea of challah bread because it is thick and eggy, which fits perfectly with an eggy bread pudding.  I decided to use more brown sugar in my recipe because bananas and brown sugar are like bread and butter, like Sonny and Cher, like a shmoke and a pancake.  I also knew that I would need to replace some milk with heavy whipping cream because…well…heavy whipping cream makes everything better.  Obviously.

Challah

After I decide upon my ingredient list, I make up ratios needed to increase the flavor town (pinch of salt here, extra vanilla here, etc.).  Eventually my bread pudding recipe was ready to go and I was ready to start cooking!

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

I ran into a problem when I was pouring the milk and egg mixture over my challah; I didn’t have enough liquid to cover the bread!  Nothing to fear, I simply added a splash more cream and wrote down a new estimated amount on the recipe.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

If my recipe is a winner, I post it on the blog.  If it’s terrible or mediocre, it’s back to the drawing board!  Recipe development sounds scary, but it’s really fun to get creative with your favorite ingredients and to try out new foods.

For the bread pudding you will need:

  • 1 loaf challah bread (the loaf I found at the store was huge, so just use what you need to fill a 9 x 13 pan) — cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 banana — mushed
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp rum
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For ingredients and directions for the salted caramel sauce, visit Comfortably Domestic’s blog.  Her sauce is wonderful.  It tastes almost like a Werther’s Original, but so much better!

Comfortably Domestic's Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

Comfortably Domestic’s Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

  1. Leave the challah out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry.  You can also dry the bread out in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the challah in a 9 x 13 pan.  Do not use a glass pan for this!  The pan will go straight from the fridge to the oven and we don’t want any broken glass pudding mixtures in the bottom of our oven.
  3. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Pour mixture over bread.
  5. Put the bread pudding in the fridge for 1 hour.  Squish the bread down into the milk every 20 minutes so that each cube of bread is soaking.  This allows the bread to absorb all of that nummy milk mixture and to ensure you aren’t inadvertently making croutons.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until pudding is no longer jiggly.
  8. Serve and drizzle Kirsten’s salted caramel over the top.

Check out the other wonderful caramel treats throughout the week with this schedule of events:

Have you ever created your own unique recipe?  How do you develop recipes?

-Mads

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting: Sweets for Your Sweetiepie Week!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to another themed week of goodies: Sweets for Your Sweetiepie Week!!!

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Our lovely team of rock star bloggers have put their heads together to ensure that you have a recipe to make for your loved ones this Valentines Day!

If you’ve been tuning in for a while, you know that I get amped up over any holiday and V-Day is no exception. I love an excuse to give out hugs, tell people I care about them, and most importantly to binge on chocolate and wine. This year I am in class all night, so my celebration will have to wait until the weekend. Luckily, my class is Human Sexuality, which is the most exciting class you could have on Valentines Day. 😉 I’m hoping we talk about something upbeat like fetishes or swinger parties, and not erectile dysfunction or supernumerary nipples.  Ok wait, both of those topics are great too.  I guess I’m super excited for class!  Maybe I’ll become a sex therapist?!

Anyway, I made these treats so we could enjoy ourselves all week long!

Jonathan is not a huge dessert fan, usually because he claims they are too “sweet”. But his favorite sweet to indulge in is white chocolate. We were recently at a party with a make-your-own-cupcake bar (GENIUS) and I spotted Jonathan helping himself to a few different varieties, which inspired these White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting.

Can you think of a better combo than white chocolate and raspberry? I cannot.

For the cupcakes you will need:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz. white chocolate bar
  • 8 oz. white chocolate chips (a smidge more than 1/2 bag)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a cupcake pan or use these adorable cupcake wrappers for V-day!
tins

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the 4 oz. white chocolate bar and milk.  White chocolate has a funny way of melting, which is to say it doesn’t melt well.  It gets kind of runny and chunky, but pay that no attention.

Ghirardelli FTW!

Ghirardelli FTW!

Slowly combine the flour mixture with the butter and sugar mixture until smooth.  Try not to whip the crap out of your batter because it will harden your cupcakes.  Nobody wants a cement cupcake.  Be GENTLE!

batter

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the batter until creamy.  Then add your 8 oz. of chocolate chips.

The extra white chocolate chips tossed in at the end really give this recipe an extra oompf of creamy white chocolate flavor!

Double white chocolate intensity

Double white chocolate intensity

Pour the batter into the greased cupcake pan.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before moving to the frosting stage.

For the frosting you will need:

  • 1 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp raspberry jam

Whip together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, whipping cream, and pinch of salt until it looks like frosting (about 30 seconds on high).

frosting

Then add the raspberry jam and mix it into the frosting with a rubber scraper.  If you are lucky, your friend Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head will send you a giant jar of delicious homemade raspberry, cranberry, and cherry jam for you to use in this recipe. If you aren’t lucky, you will walk with your head hung in shame to the grocery store to get sub par jam.

Thank you, Jeanne!

Thank you, Jeanne!

If raspberries are in season, it might be fun to make a raspberry compote to use in the frosting instead of jarred jam. I didn’t do this because raspberries were $4 when I created this recipe.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cupcakes and top with fresh raspberries or sprinkles.  These cupcakes were divine and got the stamp of approval from the hubby and my coworkers!  Num!

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

What are you making for Valentine’s Day this year?  What are your plans this holiday?

-Mads

Please check out the rest of the sweets on other blogs throughout the week! These bloggers are fearless bakers and make me drool on a daily basis. I hope you find something you want to make for your sweetheart!

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

COOKIE WEEK: Glazed Honey Lemon Cookies

Hello interwebs,

The holidays are upon us, which means that it’s time for another Cookie Week celebration!

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A few of my blogging friends have banned together to bake cookies and raise awareness and $$$ for Cookies for Kids Cancer.  Through the Glad to Give program, each cookie that we exchange raises cash to help treat children with cancer.  Isn’t that fantastic?

Let’s be real, I was going to make the cookies anyway, but now I can feel better that the goodness from those cookies is going to other places besides just my hips.  If you want to participate, it takes just a few clicks to enter the # of cookies you exchanged this year on Glad to Give.  

To prepare for Cookie Week, I made a list of 5 cookie recipes that I’ve never tried before.  I felt so adventurous, so alive!  But let me tell you, these glazed honey lemon cookies were the best.  Jonathan has requested them daily since we finished them off.
The recipe comes from Taste of Home Cookie cookbook.  You will need:

7 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup plain yogurt

2 tsp lemon rind

1/2 tsp lemon extract (or juice from the lemon you just zested, eh?)

For the icing (you might as well double this icing recipe, right?):

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest

Cream together butter and sugar.  Then beat in the egg.

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Who can tell me the difference between regular honey and clover honey?

In a separate bowl, combine the honey, yogurt, and lemon zest.

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Unappetizing? Perhaps, but the smell is divine!

In yet another, separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  I don’t have a picture of this step because I’m not on top of it.  Please imagine a bowl of dry ingredients in your head.  Not entertaining enough?  Oh, perhaps that’s why I forgot to take a snap of it.  Moving along…

Add the dry ingredients alternatively with your honey mixture to the wet ingredients.  Your batter should look and smell like heaven right now.

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I always use a cookie scoop for the next step.  I held out on getting a cookie scoop for years, but it is SO worth it.  Please go out and save yourself a whole bunch of time and effort by buying a cookie scoop.  *end rant

Now take your freckled and fuzzy arm and scoop some cookies!

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My batter was runny, which made for pancake-like cookies.  Delicious delicious pancake cookies made from unicorn tears.

While the cookies are in the oven, mix together your icing ingredients.

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When your cookies have had some time to cool, ice those puppies up!  Get messy!  Get funky!  Get durtay!

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Naked cookies need icing love.

I topped mine off with a little extra zest because I’m zesty and bold.  And it made them look much cuter.

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Stay tuned for the rest of Cookie Week!  There are giveaways, stories, and more COOKIES!!!

Comfortably Domestic–Decorated Shortbread Cookies (plus a King Arthur Giveaway)
Inside NanaBread’s Head–Dark Chocolate Turtle Thumbprints
Bakeaholic Mama–Bacon Maple Sugar Cookies
Wanna be a Country Cleaver–Homemade Mint Oreos
Tenaciously Yours–Colossal Cookies
Comfortably Domestic–Gingersnaps Reboot
Decadent Philistines Save the World–Sesame Plum Thumbprints
Bakeaholic Mama–P-town Toffee Cookies
Munching in the Mitten–Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

What are you making this holiday season?  What is your absolute favorite holiday cookie?

-Mads