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I noticed recently that the sweets around here have been very chocolate-centric. I meant to remedy this. There were citrus desserts in the works. But then these cupcakes happened. And I’m super excited about them. Let me explain.
There were a couple of birthdays to celebrate, and I was racking my brain for a dessert that was suitable for a bunch of dudes. At first I thought some sort of s’more concoction would do the trick. I also liked the idea of a grown-up Hostess cupcake. Then I realized that a boozey sweet treat was most appropriate for this group of young fellas.
And then it became obvious that an Irish car bomb cupcake was going to cover all of the bases. I can’t actually remember the last time I had an Irish car bomb, though I’m guessing it was sometime in my early twenties. I don’t recall ever being too fond of them, but I really liked the idea of them in cupcake form. For the sake of research, I did a car bomb while these were baking in the oven. It made for a fun Thursday night at home to say the least.
This little car bomb cupcake is the bomb (yes, I’m totally from the 90′s). It’s a hybrid of Deb’s cupcake and a Hostess cupcake. It’s a chocolatey Guinness cake filled with Baileys buttercream and glazed with Jameson spiked ganache. I threw in a little gold and silver sparkle for good measure (and because I can’t resist the bling), which gives them that sort of “pot of gold” effect, making these perfect for St. Patty’s day. Bottoms up!
car bomb cupcakes
adapted from smitten kitchen
makes 2 dozen cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.
Bring beer and butter to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and sour cream and beat until combined. Add the chocolate mixture to sour cream mixture and beat just to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
for the Baileys buttercream:
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 – 4 tablespoons Baileys
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip until combined. If the frosting becomes too thin, beat in another spoonful or two of confectioners sugar.
for the chocolate-whiskey glaze:
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 1 cup
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (like Jameson)
Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture, and stir until smooth. Add whiskey and stir until completely incorporated. Use immediately.
to assemble cupcakes:
gold and/or silver sanding or crystal sugars (optional)
Using a cupcake corer or the small end of a large pastry tip, insert into the center of the cupcake and remove a small hunk of the cake to create a well.
Fill a prepared pastry bag with the Baileys buttercream. Pipe buttercream into the well of the cupcake until it reaches the top. Use a spatula to smooth the buttercream at the cupcake’s surface.
Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
When all of the cupcakes have been filled, dip the tops of each cupcake in chocolate glaze, letting excess drip off. If the glaze gets too thick, set over a pan of hot water until it melts slightly and stir. Let stand until set, about 30 minutes. Embellish with sprinkles.
Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.
Last week I subsisted on pâté and Triscuits and chocolate mousse. It was obscene. But it was that kind of week. I also might’ve been just a tiny bit concerned about asteroids and crazy meteor showers and other things that are way beyond my control. Cuckoo, I know. Don’t judge. The good news is I have chocolate mousse for you.
I mentioned a while back that I had been contemplating chocolate mousse. I finally decided to do something about it. I ended up testing two recipes. The first wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. I initially liked the idea of a chocolate mousse recipe that called for egg whites and whipped cream and butter. But it was a bit labor intensive and included a lot of calories that didn’t necessarily need to be there. I felt like I needed to go back to the drawing board.
Since I was getting together with the boys for dinner on Sunday, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a second recipe. I had a feeling when I stumbled upon Dorie’s top-secret chocolate mousse that the search was over. The recipe only called for a handful of ingredients and was super simple to whip up – I threw it together while catching up with one of the Gregs over bourbon cocktails, and did it all without a mixer.
As always, the Lady Greenspan did not disappoint. The chocolate mousse was rich, intensely chocolate, and perfectly textured – velvety and airy all at once. Totally decadent. It’s definitely a winner in my book. It was the perfect ending to our homemade pasta dinner (more about that later).
top-secret chocolate mousse
adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (use the freshest eggs available)
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
chocolate shavings (optional)
Gently melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Using a whisk, stir the eggs into the chocolate one at a time until smooth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to form peaks. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Continue to beat until the whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks. Be careful not to overbeat.
Spoon about one quarter of the whites over the melted chocolate and stir until the mixture is almost smooth. Spoon the rest of the whites into the chocolate mixture, and very carefully fold them in with a large rubber spatula. Be as thorough as you can without overworking the mixture.
Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or 4 individual bowls. Serve immediately or cover and keep refrigerated until set, about 4 hours.
Beat cream and 1 teaspoon sugar in another medium bowl until peaks form. Spoon whipped cream atop mousse. Garnish with chocolate shavings.
This is how you end the year with a bang.
With your favorite people by your side. Sequined shorts. Deviled eggs. An obscene amount of Thai food. A lemon cream tart. Bourbon cocktails. Bottles poppin. Sparklers. Fireworks. And an impromptu living room dance party in the wee hours of the new year (New Order! Robyn! T.A. and Ryan!!!). It was perfect. I’m kind of in love with 2013.
This cake actually happened two days before the new year. We started celebrating early because all of the boys were in town from the East Coast and because a certain someone turned thirty-one. And since someone loves caramel, and because I have a thing for making tall layer cakes, a chocolate cake with salted caramel and chocolate-caramel frosting was just the thing.
This cake got around. It went from the East Bay to Pacific Heights, from Pacific Heights down to a restaurant in the Mission, from the Mission to the Castro, where the guys at our favorite late night pizza joint very graciously babysat our take-out boxes of leftover cake while we danced at the bars up the street. It got on two buses and went home with us at the end of the night. And then made it back to Pacific Heights the following morning, where we all ate it with our breakfast, and more later that afternoon when we woke from our naps.
I really appreciate that this is a cake with two personalities. Straight from the refrigerator, the chocolate-caramel frosting is dense and fudge-like. At room temp, it’s more like a chocolate mousse cake. It’s pretty fab either way. I can almost guarantee that you’ll get a few oohs and ahhhs upon unveiling. She’s a showstopper.
Here’s to a fabulous 2013!
sweet and salty cake
from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
makes one 8-inch cake
for the chocolate cake layers:
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
for the salted caramel:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.
Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350°F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
for the whipped caramel ganache frosting:
1 pound dark chocolate (60 to 70%cacao), chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.
Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant read thermometer read 350°F, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.
Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting at the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat until the mixture is fluffy.
to assemble the cake:
2 teaspoons of fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
Place one cake layer on a serving platter or cake board. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with the second cake layer. Spread with 1/4 cup caramel, then spread 3/4 cup of the frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel. Top with the third cake layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
The cake will keep beautifully in a cake server at cool room temperature for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place in the refrigerator. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving (or not).
We turned three on November 20th. How about that?!!
I had originally planned on making a cake for the occasion. But for one reason or another, I just couldn’t get it together that day. So I went without the cake. And instead celebrated at home that evening with a Manhattan.
While I enjoyed and needed that quiet celebration (especially the Manhattan), it didn’t feel right not being here with you. I felt like I had missed my best friend’s birthday. Something had to be done.
So I started thinking about desserts that were worthy of an anniversary. Chocolate mousse popped into my head. But what I really wanted was something grand. And then I remembered the croquembouche. I first encountered the croquembouche a million years ago while watching Great Chefs, Great Cities, a PBS cooking show I would watch when I’d get home from school. The closing credits of the series featured a chef assembling a tower of cream puffs with a cascade of spun sugar; this was mind blowing stuff in the 90′s. I filed it away in the “some day” section of my brain.
A tower of cream puffs was just the thing for this occasion. Dripping with ambered caramel and adorned with spun sugar, it’s quite the show stopper. And the caramel cream inside of the puffs is insane – you’ll want to eat more than one, and you should. This is most definitely the pièce de résistance. Perfect for the holidays, a big birthday, an anniversary, a blogiversary. It’s a winner.
Here’s to us and to you! Thank you for being a witness to the madness! We love you! Cheers!
caramel cream, caramel, and assembly adapted from Martha Stewart
makes two small or one large tower
for the caramel cream
makes 3 cups
1- 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of coarse salt
Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves, washing down sides of pan often with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until sugar turns dark amber, 5 to 7 minutes more. Immediately remove from heat, and carefully whisk in 1 cup cream. Return to medium heat, and cook until sugar melts completely and mixture boils.
Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl set in ice-water bath. Let caramel cool, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche, vanilla, and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.
Just before using, beat remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into caramel sauce, using a rubber spatula, until incorporated. Whisk to thicken, about 1 minute.
for the cream puffs
adapted slightly from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 24 large or 40 medium puffs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rapid boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk. The dough will come together, and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring – with vigor – another minute or two to dry the dough. The dough should be very smooth.
Turn the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or into a bowl you can use to mix with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don’t be concerned if the dough falls apart – by the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come together again. Once the dough is made, it should be used immediately.
Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe 1.5-inch puffs (a bit larger than a quarter) onto each prepared sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each mound of dough.
Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375°F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the puffs are golden, firm, and of course, puffed for another 12 to 15 minutes or so. Allow the puffs to cool on the baking sheet.
for the caramel:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, washing down sides of pan often with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, without stirring, until sugar dissolves, 5 to 6 minutes. Raise heat to high, and cook, swirling pan to color evenly, until syrup is amber, about 5 minutes. Remove caramel from heat, and set bottom of pan in ice-water bath for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Transfer caramel cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Insert tip of pastry bag into base of each puff, and fill each. Return to sheets in a single layer as you work.
Dip top half of each filled puff into caramel (be careful not to burn your fingers), letting excess drip back into pan. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let stand until caramel is set.
For a small tower, carefully dip bottom half of 1 puff into caramel, letting excess drip into pan. Transfer puff, hot caramel side down, to a serving platter. Repeat with 6 more puffs, forming a connected ring as you work. Repeat with more puffs, layering rings to form a 5-layer pyramid, using 20 puffs total. (If the caramel begins to harden, reheat briefly over low heat.)
To make the spun sugar topper, use any excess caramel and reheat briefly over low heat. Let cool slightly. Test by dipping a fork into the caramel and holding it over the pan; the caramel should fall back into pan in long golden threads. Dip fork into caramel, and spin caramel threads over a large piece of parchment paper or onto a wooden rack. Transfer spun-sugar to croquembouche, swirling to cover.
Serve immediately, or let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
To make a second croquembouche, make another batch of caramel, and repeat with remaining filled puffs. (Alternatively, serve the remaining puffs on the side.)
This year, I’m going to make a serious effort to have a relaxing Thanksgiving. I’m going to prep the night before, maybe even two nights before because it’s that serious. I’m going to stick to the plan, and not decide to make a different dessert the morning of or make an extra dessert just for the hell of it. I’m going to arrive to dinner on time, my pies will not still be in the oven when I’m already supposed to be at my aunt’s place with the rest of the family. I’m going to be rested and put together AND I will still have energy to see friends after dinner (and maybe even go out dancing to burn off some of that turkey). My mind is made up.
If you’re still looking for a dessert to make for Thanksgiving, I have something for you. This gem comes from the final issue of Gourmet. It’s been three years and I am still mourning the loss of Gourmet. Because it was the Thanksgiving issue, I find myself thumbing through the pages every holiday season, flagging recipes that I want to add to my repertoire. I’m finally getting around to trying one of them.
I was pretty set on making my usual pie and gallette for Thanksgiving this year. But this pear cranberry cake really grabbed my attention. It just screams “happy holidays.” So I decided to give it a whirl last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I was also surprised by how much I consumed. I’ve test driven it twice in the past week and it has gotten the thumbs up from my most discerning tasters.
This cake is the perfect ending to your Turkey Day feast, especially if you’re not a pie person. But even the most die-hard pie lovers will swoon over this cake. You can make it in a bundt or tube pan. It’s studded with tart, fresh cranberries and diced pear, and finished off with a generous coating of brown sugar caramel sauce, which is to die for. And since it’s the easiest thing to throw together, you can have yourself a cocktail (or three) and take it easy this Thanksgiving.
pear cranberry bundt cake
adapted from Gourmet, November 2009
for the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1-3/4 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups cranberries (thawed if frozen)
for the glaze:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (3-inch-long) cinnamon sticks
special equipment: 10-by 4-inch angel food cake pan or 15- cup Bundt pan
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar and oil at low speed. Continue mixing and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and rum and beat on low until combined well.
At low speed, mix in the pears and cranberries, then mix in the flour until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Cool glaze 5-10 minutes, until it is the consistency of a medium-bodied caramel sauce. Discard cinnamon sticks, then pour glaze over cake, letting some drip down sides.
Let’s start November off the right way, shall we? It is the month for indulging, after all.
Bacon. Bourbon. Pecan. Pie. The ultimate of pies.
I first started dreaming of this pie two years ago. I was obsessed with the idea of bacon fat pie crust. At the time, I really thought a sweet-savory sweet potato pie was going to be the answer. It was fine. But not life altering. So I went back to the drawing board the following year, and it went from being a sweet potato pie to a pecan pie, which was the obvious solution. Though it did require a little bit of experimenting (bacon or no bacon in the filling?). But then I found the sweet spot.
Bacon fat pie crust + gooey, crunchy pecan filling = love at first bite. A little bit of bacon fat in the pie crust really makes magic happen; it’s an instant flavor booster and makes for an ultra flakey base. And the pecan filling, spiked with bourbon and maple syrup, gets a subtle hint of savoriness with the addition of finely chopped bacon. And there you have it. Bacon and bourbon dreams really do come true. But you’ve gotta be careful with this sort of pie – it’s highly addictive. You might just end up eating straight from the pie pan if you don’t check yourself. You have my blessing, of course.
bacon bourbon pecan pie
makes 1 9-inch pie, serves 8
bacon bourbon pie crust (from the LA times)
1-1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold bourbon
2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup bacon, finely chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon
for the crust:
Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press the crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping the edges as desired. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.
for the filling:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F.
Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.
Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in the pecan halves, bacon, and bourbon. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack.
Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
October! October has been so! much! fun! Warm nights! Dancing! Birthday parties! Baseball (Sweep! Go Giants!)! Doughnuts!
I’d been daydreaming about pumpkin doughnuts because all of the pumpkins I’d been seeing were telling me that they wanted me to make doughnuts. Doughnuts? Or donuts? Either way, I do what I’m told. Plus, I had bought a doughnut pan a few months ago that had just been waiting to be put to use.
I thought a gingery pumpkin doughnut would really bring down the house. So I chopped up some fresh ginger and threw it in the batter along with cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and Chinese five spice. Then I remembered Bi-rite Creamery’s ginger caramel swirl, and couldn’t help but wonder if it would make an amazing doughnut glaze.
The answer is yes. Yes, with the addition of powdered sugar, that ginger-spiked caramel does make an insane glaze for pumpkin doughnuts. You’ll be licking your fingers. And a little bit of toasted pecan is optional, but really takes things to the next level. Or if you’re feeling festive, a little black and orange sprinkle action is also very acceptable.
baked pumpkin doughnuts with ginger-caramel glaze
makes about 12-16 doughnuts
for the doughnuts:
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1- 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour\
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won’t be doughnuts.
Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, ginger, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15, so you’ll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans).
Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
for the ginger caramel:
adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde and Anne Walker
makes about 1-1/4 cups
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ginger spread (check here for store locations)
Set the cream by the stove so it’s at hand when you need it. Put 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy nonreactive saucepan and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the sugar is melted around the edges and starts to turn amber in places (about 2 minutes), stir the mixture gently and add another 2 tablespoons sugar to the pan.
Continue to add the remaining sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring frequently and allowing most of the sugar to melt before you add more. Watch carefully as the sugar darkens, stirring gently to help it melt evenly.
When the caramel becomes a dark mahogany color, remove the pan from the heat and immediately but slowly pour the cream into the pan. (The mixture will steam and bubble up, so wear oven mitts and be very careful to avoid splatters and steam burns.) When the bubbling subsides, gently stir to completely blend the cream into the caramel. If you have lumps of hardened caramel in your pan, simply put the pan over low heat and stir until the caramel is melted.
Stir in the ginger paste and salt and let cool.
for the ginger-caramel glaze:
1/2 cup ginger caramel, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
heavy whipping cream
Pour the ginger caramel in small bowl. Add the powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated. If the glaze seems too thick, add a small amount of heavy cream and stir. Repeat until you have reached the desired consistency. You want your glaze to be fluid enough to work with, but thick enough so that you get a nice coating that will set.
Place a doughnut face down in the glaze, then carefully lift and let excess glaze drip from the doughnut back into the bowl. Place on a cooling rack with a parchment-lined baking sheet underneath. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Top with chopped toasted pecans or sprinkles. Best eaten same day, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.