Friday, December 28, 2012

Nutella Pumpkin Swirl Bread

This is my husband's new favorite holiday bread. I've made it at least three times already (there's a loaf in the oven as we speak) and he raves about it to everyone. It makes me feel good when I can make people (especially my family) happy through food. :)
   This is a spin on a recipe that I found on Six Sisters Stuff. 
I think it turned out pretty well and I hope you try it and love it too!

You'll need 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree. I just got out two of my 1 cup bags from the freezer. (I did these back when I had pumpkin coming out of my ears. I made Pumpkin Butter, Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip CookiesEasy Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and Pumkin Cake With a Chocolate Ganache.  I still had over 30 cups of pumpkin left over, so I portioned them out into 1 cup measurements and froze them for later use.)

The pumpkin puree gets put into a medium to large mixing bowl.


salt, (excuse the blinding flashback off my palm)

 and cinnamon are added as well. (You could use pumpkin pie spice here, if you wanted it to taste more "pimpkin-y" but I wanted the Nutella to be the star.)

Along with some softened butter (mine got a little too soft in the microwave, but it doesn't matter),

baking soda,

and vanilla.

That all gets whisked together with two eggs,

some flour,

and milk.  (To tell you the truth; the order in which you mix the ingredients together doesn't matter too much. Just make sure that everything gets mixed well, and don't over mix it.)

When everything is combined it looks like this:

One cup of the batter gets put into a separate bowl, along with a heaping 3/4 cup of Nutella. (I've done a full cup here with no negative results.)

Stir everything together. It won't look like they are going to get a long very well, but just keep mixing and they will.

Start with the plain pumpkin batter, and put just enough in the greased loaf pan to evenly coat the bottom.

Then scoop in some of the Nutella mixture.

Spread that out evenly,

and keep repeating the steps until all of both batters are used.  Pumpkin . . . spread . . .

Nutella . . . spread . . .

When you have reached then end of your batters, you don't need to worry about spreading out the top of the loaf. (It actually looks and tastes better if you don't. The Nutella part gets nice and crunchy in the oven while the pumpkin part stays mostly soft.)  Using a butter knife, swirl the batters together.

Any pattern you like will do. I usually just take the knife up and down from one end of the loaf to the other.

It bakes @ 350F for  about 55 minutes. (The original recipe says to cook it for about 45 minutes, because they like it underdone and gooey. I prefer my bread more on the done side, so I cook it for 55-60 minutes until it no longer jiggles.) The Nutella parts will always be a little gooier and softer than the pumpkin parts.

Let it cool completely before cutting. Isn't it pretty?

I made the bread the night before and then we ate it for breakfast. (Hence the drastic lighting change.)

See how the Nutella swirls are still soft and a little wet looking?

My favorite part is the crunchy Nutella swirls on top. The contrast between that and the soft interior of the bread is just heavenly.
This one is definitely a keeper!

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Six Sisters Stuff

Nutella Pumpkin Swirl Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice if so desired)
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 heaping cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and butter until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Beat until blended.
Add cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and flour. Mix until flour is incorporated (don’t over mix).
Spoon 1 cup of the batter into a sperate bowl and add the Nutella. (If your Nutella is hard from being cold, you might want to warm up the Nutella by itself first, in the microwave, for about 10-15 seconds.)
Stir until well blended. Spoon Nutella batter alternately with plain banana bread batter into the prepared pan. Swirl batters together with a butter knife.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes. (The more undercooked it is, to gooier it will be.) Cool completely before serving.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pumpkin Cake with a Chocolate Ganache

I'll start off this post by apologizing for not having step by step pictures for this one. This was a last minute cake that I whipped up before a dinner with the missionaries. It was heavenly, and devoured almost immediately (hence there only being half of a cake to photograph).
   This recipe is for Carla Hall's Pumpkin Chocolate Cake. I was inspired when I watched her make it on The Chew, and the other hosts raved about it and said it was their favorite thing that she's ever made. I just had to try it out for myself.
   It's a pumpkin cake, with a pumpkin marscapone "moose" and and chocolate ganache with crumbled ginger cookies on top. Delicious!  I stayed true to the recipe, except I reduced the amount of sugar in both the filling and the cake (the recipe shown reflects my changes). The cake does have a few steps, but none of them are difficult. It's actually really easy to put together.
   We all loved it so much that I'm debating making it again for an upcoming Christmas Party. Try it out and let me know what you think!

We ate it so fast, the chocolate didn't even have time to set up. It dripped down the half eaten cake. Mmmm. Excuse me while I wipe my drool.

It's still such a pretty cake - even half eaten. ;)
Here's the recipe:

Carla Hall's Pumpkin Chocolate Cake (with reduced sugar)

*Start straining the pumpkin puree for the filling before you do anything else!
  • For the Pumpkin Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 9 inch round cake pans. Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Whisk dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir the dry into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the pumpkin puree.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Rotate pans half way through cooking. When a toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are done. Let cool for 5 minutes and then turn cakes out onto cooling racks.
  • For the Mascarpone Filling:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 2 cups mascarpone
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (*strained of excess liquid)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
 Beat the mascarpone and the pumpkin puree until blended, and then add the pumpkin spice, salt and powdered sugar. Mix at a high speed until blended, about 1 minute. Once it's fully combined add the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

 Once the cakes have cooled completely, cut through each cake horizontally with a serrated knife (there will now be four round of cake to work with). Spread the filling evenly between the layers (3).
  • For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (chopped into small bits) *I used chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ginger snaps (crushed for garnish) 
 Make the ganache in a small saucepan. Combine the corn syrup and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.
 Pour over the cake. Garnish with crushed ginger snaps.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Whoopie Pies (Chocolate with Peanut Butter Frosting)

Here are the Peanut Butter Cup Whoopie pies I have been teasing you with the last few posts. They are a cinch to make and they were a big hit at the PTO meeting that I brought them too. (Along with my Easy Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with my Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.)
   If you don't know what a whoopie pie is, you are really missing out. It's basically cake, baked in cookie form and sandwiched together with frosting. "How bad could that be?" - as Ina Garten would say.

It all starts with a cake mix. I'm sure you could start from scratch, but I don't have much time, and a cake mix will work nicely for that.
You'll need any chocolate cake mix you like. I thought "Triple Chocolate Fudge" would be nice, but anything you have would be fine.

The oil and vanilla go into the bowl with the mix.

Then goes in one egg.

and a little liquid. You could use water, but I had some Postum (roasted, ground and brewed barley) on hand so I used that. I've heard it tastes similar to coffee (I wouldn't know because I won't touch the stuff), but If you are a coffee drinker you could use that also.

Add just a touch more cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder).

Mix it all together, and it will be a thick, rich chocolate batter. Chill the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Use the smallest scoop you have. (Mine was a little over 1 inch.) Scoop the batter out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes of until they are fragrant and cooked through.

While the whoopie pie halves  bake, you can make the peanut butter frosting.

The salt and butter go into a medium mixing bowl.

Then comes the peanut butter. Creamy works best.

Next, add the powdered sugar,

and pure vanilla extract.

Beat everything together for about 5 minutes, until smooth, scraping the sides as you go.

Finally, slowly add in the cream and whip until light in color and fluffy.

Like this:

When the whoopie cookies (as my 2 yr old calls them) are cool, just pick one up. Frost the bottom,

and put another one on top. Ta-da!

Here they all are put together.

Here is the platter I took to the PTO meeting, with both kinds of whoopie pies (pumpkin and peanut butter cup). They were both a big hit! I hope you like them too!!

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Cup Whoopie Pies

1 box Betty Crocker Tripple Chocolate Fudge cake mix 
1/2 cup veg oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup water, coffee or Postum
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Special Dark)

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth (1-2 minutes). Chill the batter for 30 minutes. Using the smallest scoop you have (about 1 1/4 inch) Scoop out and put onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool completely and then sandwich two "whoopie cookies" together using the Perfect Peanut Butter Frosting.

Perfect Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup confectioners' sugar    
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl . Mix on medium-low speed until creamy (about 5 minutes?), scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.