baked pumpkin doughnuts with ginger-caramel glaze

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)

sprinkles (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.

to assemble: 

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.

onion jam

As promised, onion jam to go with that fig tart.

I fell in love with onion jam at a sausage party. And seeing that in writing just now made me laugh out loud a little bit. Let me explain. When my best childhood friend turned thirty last year, there was a party in his honor and homemade sausage was the main attraction. It was a literal sausage party. Although, now that I think about it… I’m totally being a 14-year-old dude right now. My apologies!

Anyway, as I was saying, there was a very innocent looking jar of onion jam at this party, alongside the platters of grilled sausages. I had a feeling about that jam, and it did not disappoint. Onion jam is a sausage’s best friend.

Making onion jam requires little more than onions and patience. Onions, caramelized to max, are the perfect condiment – sweet and savory and super flavorful. You’ll want to put it on just about everything.

onion jam

from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce

makes 1 cup  **recipe can easily be doubled

2 pounds yellow onions, about 7-1/2 cups sliced 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste 

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 

Cut the stems off the onions. Slice each onion in half through the root end. Lay each onion half cut-side down and slice it, toward the root, into slices about 1/4-inch thick.

Heat a 5-to 7-quart heavy bottomed pot over a medium-high flame. Add the olive oil and heat until it’s shimmering. Add the onions, salt, and pepper and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Saute the onions for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have lost their gloss, the bottom of the pan is getting dark in areas, and the edges on the onions are beginning to brown. Turn the flame to low, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan, stir the onions, scrape any dark flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan, and continue to cook, uncovered, for 1 hour more. Stir the onions occasionally, especially toward the end of cooking time, to prevent burning. The onions are ready when the liquid has evaporated and the onions are dark, translucent, and jammy. Stir in the vinegar and allow to cool. The onion jam will keep int he refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 1 month.

savory fig tart

Isn’t it crazy that the holidays are just around the corner? I feel like in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving will be here and I’ll be knees deep in pies and sides. I know it sounds slightly insane that this is what I’m obsessing about at the moment since it’s not even Halloween yet (Halloween??!! OMG, I need a costume!), but this is how my brain sometimes operates – freaking out about the future instead of dealing with the present.

In the spirit of staying in the present, I’m giving you a fig tart. I know we’re on the very edge of fig season, which is why I hesitated sharing this with you. I considered waiting until next year, for the peak of fig the season. But then I realized that if I wait a whole year, I might forget entirely about this tart. And that would be a shame.

If you can still find figs at the market (I’ve been buying mine at Whole Foods), you’ve gotta make this tart. It is heavily inspired by the amazing fig tart I ate on my birthday. Figs are my favorite, so whenever I see them on a menu, I go for it. This particular tart is a sweet and savory number, which is always a plus in my book. There are lots of little elements that make this fantastic. Gorgeous figs. Sweet-savory onion jam. Salty prosciutto. Sharp watercress. Pungent blue cheese. Toasted hazelnut for a little bit of crunch. Together they become this little masterpiece. It’s the kind of thing that works beautifully as a first course, or a light lunch. Or if you’re feeling real ambitious, you could make them into bite size hors d’oeuvres. Whatever your little heart desires…

savory fig tart 

inspired by Wood Tavern

serves 4

1 sheet puff pastry

1 cup onion jam (store bought or make your own… I’ll post a recipe soon!)

1 pound black mission figs (about 3-4 figs per tart), quartered

3 ounces prosciutto

1 bunch watercress or upland cress, stems trimmed 

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thaw the puff pastry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry and carefully smooth out any seams or tears in the dough. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork. Cut the sheet into quarters, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the pastry, then place another baking sheet or pan on top of the parchment. This will prevent the pastry from puffing, leaving you with a flat pastry base. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 15-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

When the pastry is cool, spread 1/4 cup of onion jam on each quarter of the pastry. Arrange figs on top of onion jam. Take slices of prosciutto and arrange on top of figs.

Pour the vinegar in a small bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Add the blue cheese and mix gently until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Just before serving, toss the watercress lightly with the vinaigrette. Arrange a mound of dressed watercress on top of each tart. Top with chopped hazelnut and extra blue cheese from the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

baked eggs with cream, spinach, and ham

Sometimes, when I’ve got a case of the mean reds, I like to watch my favorite YouTube videos to cheer me up. Like this (magic). And this (recognize that voice?). And this (because Lee and I cannot get enough). And this (ew!). There. I feel better already.

And sometimes, when I need a little pick me up, I like to make myself something really, really delish and satisfying. Sometimes a good breakfast fixes everything. Eggs baked with cream, ham, and spinach will usually do the trick.

These eggs come directly from Adrian’s kitchen via Gourmet. Adrian’s is hands down my favorite place for brunch; the man is a natural born host. And my idol. And one of my besties. I refer to these as the brunch eggs because they regularly make their appearance at Adrian’s brunches. They really are the perfect brunch item, especially brunch for a crowd. Be sure to make extras; people will happily indulge in seconds.

baked eggs with cream, spinach, and ham 

from Gourmet

makes 8 servings

1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, finely chopped

Scant 3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, or finely chopped leek 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

10 ounces spinach, coarse stems discarded

8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Bring ham and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then remove from heat. Let steep, uncovered, about 10 minutes.

Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, turning with tongs, until spinach is wilted.

Drain spinach in a colander, pressing to remove excess liquid, then coarsely chop. Divide spinach, then ham, among ramekins, spooning 1 tablespoon cream into each serving. Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon cream over each egg. Cut remaining tablespoon butter into 8 small pieces and dot each egg with butter.

Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked. Serve immediately with toast or grilled bread.