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.

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pink popcorn balls

Halloween is less than a week away and I’m without a costume. I have serious love for Halloween, so not having a costume (or plans) makes me feel like I’m dying inside.

I did manage to buy six – yes, six pairs of false eyelashes from the craft store last weekend. So if nothing else, there will be crazy eyelashes this Halloween. And popcorn balls. Make that pink popcorn balls.

One of my favorite childhood treats was Wright’s Pink Popcorn, the sweet, slightly stale bar of popcorn sold at zoos and amusement parks in and around the Bay Area. My mom would buy it for us at Fairyland when we were kids, so I associate youth and good times with pink popcorn.

I’d been thinking about pink popcorn for a few weeks and decided that I had to do something about it. I hadn’t made popcorn balls in over ten years, and the idea of pink popcorn balls put a smile on my face. Freshly popped stove-top popcorn lightly coated in a sugary syrup with a hint of vanilla and sea salt is my kind of party. The pink is optional, but so much fun. This one is definitely for the kids, big and small.

pink popcorn balls

adapted from karosyrup.com

makes 12 balls

16 cups popped, unsalted popcorn (2/3 cup kernels)

non-stick cooking spray

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon sea salt (I used Maldon)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 or 2 drops pink or red food coloring

Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the popped popcorn in the bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar,  corn syrup, butter, and salt in a small, heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue stirring and boil for 2 minutes.

Remove the sugar mixture from heat and add baking soda, vanilla, and food coloring, stirring, until desired color is reached.

Pour the hot syrup over the reserved popcorn; stir together with a wooden spoon until all the kernels have been well coated. Spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray. Working quickly, use your hands to form a 3-inch-diameter ball. Transfer the ball to parchment paper, and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining the popcorn mixture. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container up to 2 days.