pumpkin bundt with a milk chocolate chip and cinnamon sugar ribbon

and the bundt love continues.  the latest recipe to join the club, a pumpkin coffeecake with a ribbon of milk chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar.  just one more example of how versatile that base recipe i love to use is and how easy it is to transform it into something completely different each time.  this cake was headed out to the garden and since only a few volunteers came out, i had a lot of cake left over.  not to worry, i had to work the next morning and the cake went with me; my coworkers devoured it and all i had left was a dirty cake plate.  the use of milk chocolate chips means that the chocolate does not dominate the flavor profile-it gives just a hint of chocolate along with a little spice of the cinnamon and that is a good thing for those folks who are not big fans of chocolate or spiced chocolate.

sometimes, all a bundt cake needs is a little dusting of powdered sugar to dress it up.  a beautifully sculpted pan doesn’t hurt either!  this one was a christmas gift from my mother in law and i have used it several times now.  now matter how simple the cake is, the pan makes it look rather elegant.  almost too elegant, i have to tell people, “please, go ahead, cut it!  have a slice!” because they are almost afraid to do just that.

pumpkin bundt cake
with a milk chocolate chip and cinnamon sugar ribbon
makes 1 bundt cake serving 12-16
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
powdered sugar

preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour the tube pan and set it aside.  to make the batter, place the butter, pumpkin puree, sugar, and salt into the processor bowl and process until smooth.  with the motor running, add the eggs, one at a time and process until mixed.  scrape the bowl and pulse a few times to be sure it is combined.  dump the batter into a large mixing bowl; the rest of the recipe is combined by hand with a rubber spatula or a large wooden spoon.

place the flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice into a sifter or a mesh strainer and sift it over the batter.  fold the mixture a few times, sprinkle the buttermilk over the batter and fold it together.  carefully place half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out so there are not huge gaps and vacant areas-it does not need to be perfectly level.  sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the batter in the pan and top with the milk chocolate chips.  carefully spread the remaining batter over the ribbon and bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour.  cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes and then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack.

once the cake has cooled and is still on the rack, give it a liberal dusting of powdered sugar and then carefully place it on the serving plate.  the cake is best cut when completely cool.  to store, keep it covered in a cake container at room temperature up to 2 days.  to store in the freezer for up to a month, cut and wrap slices well in plastic and place them in a plastic container or bag before freezing.  thaw the slices, still wrapped in plastic, at room temperature.

pumpkin cornbread; pair it with chili

the change in season took me by surprise.  funny how that happens.  one day it is warm, actually a bit hot and then in the blink of an eye, it is cold and frosty.  chili seemed like the perfect solution for a dreary fall day.  in our house, it isn’t a proper bowl of chili unless there is a pan of cornbread on the table.

lurking in the fridge was an open container of pumpkin puree leftover from something i baked.  the idea of adding pumpkin to the cornbread recipe seemed natural to me.  it would add a little flavor, a little moisture and of course, some additional nutrition and fiber.  what i wasn’t expecting, that gorgeous golden color.  especially since i only added 1/3 cup of the puree to the recipe.

and, dinner is served…
to make the cornbread, i turned to my favorite cornbread recipe, it can be found on the albers website by following this link.  although i followed the recipe, i did make a few changes.  first, i reduced the sugar to 3 tablespoons because i did not want it to be sweet.  then i substituted and equal portion of buttermilk for the milk and finally, i added 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree by whisking it with the other wet ingredients.  by baking it in a 9″ round pan rather than the 8″ square called for in the recipe and the addition of the pumpkin did increase the baking time a bit, i had to check it for doneness by inserting a cake tester in the center.  it came out clean around the 30 minute mark in my oven.  and just a note for the leftovers, cornbread makes nice toast!  i cut wedges in half, horizontally and toasted them in the broiler.  they were tasty with a little butter.

it’s a pie, it’s a cheesecake, no wait! it’s both, pie #51 of 52

so it was the week before thanksgiving and all through the house…wait, wrong story…well, it was the week before thanksgiving and i got completely derailed from my plan of posting this before the holiday.  it ultimately ended up being done in time for thanksgiving but sadly, not in time for anyone to see and attempt it.  hopefully, you will forgive me and then run out and buy the ingredients to try and bake one for the next big holiday celebration.

remember last year’s big thing-cherpumple cakes?  when i saw them posted all over the internet, i wanted to try one.  then i saw the recipe-frozen pies and cake mix…major disappointment! no time to play with that many scratch recipes this week.  instead i decided to bake my own version based on things my family enjoys.  there was one holiday season that after baking about a bejillion pies in the cafe, i refused to make any for our annual thanksgiving trash can turkey extravaganza.  needless to say, even though they enjoyed the pumpkin cheesecake i baked, they missed having a pie on the table.  this year i decided to combine two pies with a cheesecake and see what would happen.

word of warning, this is not a quick dessert.  to do it right, right meaning so that it doesn’t fall apart, it will take you more than a day to complete, possibly 2 to 3 evenings if you have limited time to work on it.  another important note, i never use springform pans or a water bath to bake cheesecakes!!!  this recipe uses heavy gauge cake pans and if you follow the directions, the cake will work just fine.  you may even want to consider baking your cheesecakes in a cake pan all the time; it is so much easier to use than a springform pan and a water bath!

first step was to make half of a pecan pie in a 6″ cake pan.  it was so cute!  after baking it, i chilled it completely so that i could take it out of the pan without destroying it.  by gently warming the bottom over very low heat on the stove, i was able to turn the cold pecan pie out in one piece.  since the crust stood a little taller than the filling and got a little dark, i carefully cut it off using a serrated knife.

the cheesecake filling was quickly assembled in the food processor.  the cookie crust was pressed into a 10″ cake pan.  i set the pecan pie in the center of the crust and carefully ladled in the cheesecake filling.  it was baked and then completely chilled overnight before i set out to make the turtle pie topping.

the cheesecake is removed from the pan using the same method as the pecan pie.  cover a flat platter with plastic wrap and lightly spray it with pan spray.  gently warm the bottom of the cake pan, place the prepared platter upside-down over the cheesecake and invert it.  the cheesecake should slowly slide out of the pan.  then you can place your serving plate onto the bottom of the cake and invert it again.  sounds tricky but it works!

the turtle pie topping is made from a single can of sweetened condensed milk that has been baked to caramelize it.  on the left, straight out of the can and on the right, after two hours of baking. 

neatly spread the hot caramel over the cheesecake portion of the cake.  spread it out evenly.  then back into the fridge to chill it so the chocolate topping can go on.  the chocolate topping is made very quickly in the microwave and is easily applied to the pie with a piping bag.

pecan pie in a pumpkin cheesecake
1 (10″) cheesecake serving about 14
pecan pie
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon liquid-i used buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup pecan pieces
preheat the oven to 300.  cut the cold butter into small cubes.  place the flour, powdered sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor.  sprinkle the butter cubes over the top of the dry ingredients and pulse together until it resembles a coarse meal.  add the egg yolk and the liquid and pulse until it forms a soft dough.  using your fingers, carefully press the dough into a greased 6″ cake pan.  line the crust with paper and fill with weights and bake until it is no longer glossy on the bottom and it barely shows any color, about 30 minutes.  
while the shell partially bakes, make the filling by mixing the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.  whisk in the butter and mix until smooth.  add the eggs, one at a time and mix each one in completely.  finally, whisk in the corn syrup.  when the crust is ready, remove from the oven, turn the oven temperature up to 350 and carefully remove the weights and the paper from the pan.  place the pecans in the crust and pour in the custard filling.  return the pan to the oven and bake it until it is set all the way across, about 40 minutes.  allow the pie to cool and then chill it until it is completely cold and unmold the pie as described above.
pumpkin cheesecake
2 cups cookie crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
preheat the oven to 300.  make the crust by combining the cookie crumbs, sugar and butter.  carefully press the mixture into a greased 10″ cake pan.  to mix the filling, place the cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, flour and spice into the bowl of a food processor.  pulse to combine and be sure to scrape the bowl at least once.  with the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time.  scrape the bowl again and add the sour cream.  pulse it, scrape it and pulse it again.  
to assemble, place the cold pecan pie in the center of the cheesecake pan.  carefully spoon the filling around it without getting any on top of the pecan pie.  bake the cake for 45 minutes then carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan and prevent cracking.  turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven with the door just slightly open for 15 minutes.  remove from the oven, the cheesecake should be slightly puffed and feel almost firm to the touch.  let it cool and then chill it overnight before proceeding with the turtle pie topping.
turtle pie topping
1 (14) ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup half and half
heat the oven to 350.  pour the sweetened condensed milk into a small covered casserole dish.  place the dish in a pan of water so that the water comes up to the same height as the milk.  carefully place in the oven and bake.  every 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and whisk the milk completely to ensure even caramelization.  this will take about 2 hours and during that last 30 minutes, you may have to do this a little more often to prevent scorching.  using the photos above as a guide, top the cheesecake portion (after you have taken the cake out of the pan!!!) with the caramel.  chill completely before topping it with the chocolate mixture.

break up the chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl.  add the half and half and using 15 second intervals, heat on the lowest setting until the chocolate melts.  stir it until smooth.  place in a piping bag with a small (#4 to #6) straight tip and make the lattice top by using a quick back and forth motion.  turn the cake a 1/4 turn and repeat the action to get a chocolate lattice design.  allow the cake to chill for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

and now that my food coma is lifting, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!  bakinbabe116@aol.com