Month: October 2016

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is a naked pumpkin layer cake with moist, fluffy layers make with cinnamon and pumpkin puree. The cake is filled with a sweet and salty pecan filling. The frosting is a southern style, almost caramel flavored frosting make by caramelizing sugar until it is almost burnt. The whole thing is layered together for an impressive layer cake that takes like fall. It is a great birthday , celebration, thanksgiving. Make this show stopper for your next event. Thewoodandspoon.com

It’s happened to all of us. You find a delicious looking recipe, get psyched up to make it, do the grocery shopping, log the man hours and then… the final product sucks. The cake fell, the cookie was dry, the pie didn’t set up, etc., etc., etc. Isn’t that the worst?

Well, I’m over it. I’m not spending all of my free time testing recipes and spilling my guts on this blog (read: embarrassing myself in front of the world) to have any of the recipes on this site belly-flop in your kitchen. I’m determined that YOU WILL HAVE SUCCESS!

Enter: my recipe tester. I have solicited the help of fellow baking enthusiast// butter and sugar boss-lady to test the majority of my recipes before they make it to your computer screen. Together, we are going to produce face-melting treats, and you, my friends, will be happier and more successful in the kitchen because of it. CAN I GET AN AMEN?!

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

This pumpkin pecan cake with burnt sugar frosting is the first recipe I sent to my little kitchen elf. It’s almost laughable because this recipe was not an immediate success. This cake, admittedly, is a bit of a bear to make if you have zero kitchen experience or ambition, but trust me when I say that the juice is worth the squeeze. Plus, we’re all grown ups here- we can totally do this. Are you up for the challenge?

This pumpkin pecan cake with burnt sugar frosting starts by making a burnt sugar syrup that is used both in the frosting and as a moistening syrup for the cake. This syrup, as well as the salty pecans scattered between the layers of cake, can be made ahead of time, so take heart in knowing that you can easily break this baking up over a couple of days. The pumpkin cake layers, an adaptation of Rosie Alyea, are quite simple to make and incredibly moist. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, you simply whip the syrup into a cream cheese buttercream and voila: pumpkin pecan cake with burnt sugar frosting.

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

And as if one pumpkin recipe wasn’t enough, there just so happens to be more to go around. I’m sharing today’s recipe in collaboration with Sara, Aimee, and a whole bunch of other bloggers who are slinging pumpkin dishes on their sites today. Check out the full list of those participating in the #virtualpumpkinparty on Sara and Aimee’s sites!  

 

Happy fall y’all and cheers to you! For more cake recipes, click here!
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Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is a naked pumpkin layer cake with moist, fluffy layers make with cinnamon and pumpkin puree. The cake is filled with a sweet and salty pecan filling. The frosting is a southern style, almost caramel flavored frosting make by caramelizing sugar until it is almost burnt. The whole thing is layered together for an impressive layer cake that takes like fall. It is a great birthday , celebration, thanksgiving. Make this show stopper for your next event. Thewoodandspoon.com

This pumpkin pecan cake is a 3 layer, 8″ cake made up of pumpkin cake layers, salty buttered pecans, and coats of burnt sugar frosting.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 90
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Scale

Ingredients

For the pumpkin cake layers

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 11/4 cups canola oil
  • 11/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 11/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the burnt sugar syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup

For the burnt sugar frosting

  • 1/2 cup burnt sugar syrup
  • 3 sticks (1-1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 11/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

For the salty pecans

  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 cup of pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/23/4 teaspoon salt (add based on your preferences)

Instructions

To prepare the pumpkin cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 3-8″ cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of them with parchment paper rounds for easy removal.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed, just until combined. Be sure not to over-mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in any ingredients that may have gotten stuck to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Evenly distribute the cake batter amongst the 3 pans. Bake in the preheated oven about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely prior to frosting. (See notes)

To prepare the burnt sugar syrup

  1. Place sugar in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet and allow sugar to melt on medium-low (I use 3-4 on my stovetop) heat for about 15 minutes, stirring as seldom as possible. Over-stirring the syrup can cause it to crystallize which is NOT the goal. Continue to cook on medium-low heat until the sugar has melted completely and it becomes a dark amber color. Cooking time may vary depending on your stovetop. Be sure to cook until it is dark and fragrant but has not begun to heavily smoke.
  2. Carefully and slowly add hot water and stir slightly to combine with the sugar. The mixture will bubble up and steam, so take care not to burn yourself. Cook on low heat for approximately 3 minutes and then add the corn syrup. Set aside to cool in a heat proof container (I use a covered mason jar) until room temperature. At room temperature, the syrup should be the consistency of molasses. See notes for help on the syrup if needed.

To prepare the burnt sugar frosting

  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 2 minutes. Do not over-beat, but scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that no clumps remain and the mixture is evenly combined.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the cooled burnt sugar syrup and the vanilla and beat on low to combine, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add additional powdered sugar to thicken the frosting as needed.
  3. Use frosting immediately or refrigerate up to 1 week. Reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons of burnt sugar syrup to use as a moistening syrup for the cakes.

To prepare the salty pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the butter, pecans and salt on a sheet pan. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes or until the nuts have been evenly toasted. Allow to cool.

To assemble the cake

  1. Level all cake layers prior to stacking.
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons of the remaining burnt sugar syrup with 1/2 tablespoon of water to create a moistening syrup. You can microwave it on low for 10-15 seconds to help melt the syrup. Stir to combine.
  3. Using a pastry brush, “moisten” each cake layer with 1/3 of the syrup.
  4. Use a small dab of frosting to adhere the first layer of cake to an 8″ cake board or a serving plate. Spread 1-1/3 cups of frosting on to the first layer of cake and smooth until flat. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nuts evenly on the frosting. Repeat this entire process once for the second layer of cake and then place the final cake layer on top. Smooth 1-1/2 cups of frosting on top of that final layer and smooth over the top.
  5. Use a small amount of frosting to apply a thin coat of frosting on the sides of the cake to “crumb coat” the cake. (See notes). Refrigerate briefly, about 30-45 minutes, to help set the frosting, and then continue covering and decorating the cake with frosting as desired. Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

Notes

  • You can store your syrup in the fridge to help maintain freshness, however, keep in mind it will firm up quite a bit in the fridge. Simply microwave at brief, 15 second intervals until it becomes soft enough to pour. Do not add hot syrup to your buttercream.
  • If you happen to cook your syrup too long and it becomes hard once cooled, you can microwave it at brief, 15 second intervals with a tablespoon or two of water. Once able, stir it all together to thin out the syrup a bit. The syrup should be molasses consistency at room temperature.
  • I briefly freeze my cake layers to ensure they are sturdy. It makes frosting the cake cleanly a bit easier.
  • If frosting becomes too soft while using, refrigerate briefly to thicken up. Likewise, if frosting is too hard, allow to warm slightly at room temperature, or add a small bit of water a teaspoon at a time to thin out slightly.
  • A crumb coat helps to lock in any cake crumbs and prevent them from showing up in the final coat of frosting applied to the exterior of the cake. This isn’t necessary, but helps to keep your cake neat and pretty!

 

Recipe for cake layers adapted from: Rosie Alyea

Apple Crumb Cake

Apple Crumb Cake Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is a fun and simple way to use apples or pears or other fall produce. A simple fluffy cake recipe sweetened with applesauce and chunks of peeled apples. The topping is a crumble streusel that adds a bit of crunch to every bite. This cake is a great breakfast coffee cake or dessert to share with friends. Find the recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

I have a black thumb.

For three years, I’ve tried to cultivate a healthy garden of herbs and veggies and I’m starting to realize that I’m the problem. I’m the weakest link.

Pepper and parsley plants tremble at the thought of being planted in my backyard. Squash and zucchini don’t stand a chance. Even basil, supposedly the easiest and most forgiving of plants to attempt in a home garden, can’t survive a summer at my place. I fry those suckers every time.

If we were in hunter/gatherer times now, I would not be a surviver. You would find me somewhere in the woods, gagging on grass and brown, spotty tomatoes that undoubtedly had already been predigested by a worm (or something worse). I seriously lack gardening skills.

I blame my own laziness (who wants to water a garden?!) and basic agricultural know-how. It’s really much easier to just buy my produce from the store and farmer’s market, but I’m convinced that growing my own food would be so much more healthy and rewarding. 

My husband says we will someday plant a real, legit garden and so long as he’s okay with sewing the man hours, I’m fine with reaping all of the rewards. When that day comes, I’ll request an apple orchard and if the tree survives long enough to produce fruit, you better believe I’ll be making this apple crumb cake.

Apple Crumb Cake

This apple crumb cake might be the most fool-proof recipe on my blog to date. It’s extra fancy because it works with a variety of different types of fruit, so if you happen to be one of those weirdos who doesn’t like apples, you could totally use pears, berries, plums, etc. 

This time of year, apple desserts and crumb cakes kinda feel like a dime a dozen, but I really stand behind this fluffy friend. It’s moist and fragrant thanks to the applesauce and spices, and the crumb topping is delicious. In fact, if you decide to pick all the little crumbles right off the top of this apple crumb cake and nibble away like a little church mouse, I would not blame you. 

Apple Crumb Cake

Apple crumb cake is the perfect ode to October, the changing seasons, and those gorgeous little apples my green-thumbed friends are picking this time of year. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cheers to you and happy Monday!

Apple Crumb Cake

 

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Apple Crumb Cake

Apple Crumb Cake Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is a fun and simple way to use apples or pears or other fall produce. A simple fluffy cake recipe sweetened with applesauce and chunks of peeled apples. The topping is a crumble streusel that adds a bit of crunch to every bite. This cake is a great breakfast coffee cake or dessert to share with friends. Find the recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

This apple crumb cake is moist and fragrant, simple cake specked with bits of apples and topped with a sweet and rich crumb topping.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Category: Cake
Scale

Ingredients

For the streusel

  • 1/4 cup (50 gm) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (60 gm) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (110 gm) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 (160 gm) cups all-purpose flour

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup (110 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 (150 gm) cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of boiled cider (optional)
  • 1 cup (240 gm) of no sugar added applesauce
  • 1 1/4 (155 gm) cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 gm) of small diced apples (about 1 granny smith)

Instructions

To prepare the streusel

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the butter to combine. Add the flour and stir just until combined.
  2. Set aside while you prepare the cake.

To prepare the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9″ springform pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring briefly to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla, cider, and applesauce. Beat to combine. In a separate bowl, toss together the dry ingredients and then add to the bowl of the stand mixer. Stir just until combined and then gently fold in the chopped apple.
  3. Spread the batter on the bottom of the pan and smooth. Then, crumble the streusel evenly over the top of the cake.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. The cake can be eaten warm or at room temperature, but is best enjoyed within 3 days.

Recipe adapted from: Ina Garten

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. These are simple, individual mini tarts made in removable bottom tart pans. An easy cheesecake and canned pumpkin puree filling swirled together with sugar and fall spices like cinnamon. The press in crust is easy to make and the whole thing is topped with sweet and salty walnuts or pecans or other nuts. Find this great dinner party dessert on thewoodandspoon.com

What age is too old?

This is the question I’m faced with more and more frequently. 

For example, I secretly love Harry Styles, but am I just way too old to admit that? I want to buy a chokers and lace up shirts, but wait, didn’t I wear those twenty years ago!? And then what about my secret stash of Mary-Kate and Ashley movies? AM I TOO OLD FOR ALL OF THIS? PLEASE INFORM. 

I’m stuck in this purgatory age known as 28 where (to quote the great philosopher Britney Spears) I’m not a girl, not yet a woman, and I have no gauge of where my awkwardness fits in society.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts

Ok, I can already hear you rolling your eyes at me, and that’s fine. You can judge me. You can hate me for getting antsy about nearing my thirties, or you can laugh at the immature desires of my old, wrinkly heart. But I’m just being honest here, ok? 

This past weekend, we traveled with friends to Atlanta for a football game and 36 kid-free hours of food and shopping. Following an afternoon of day-drinking, pre-dinner cocktails, and a few poured bottles of wine throughout dinner, I was feeling pretty fancy. And to be clear, by fancy, I mean Ready. To. Dance. 

We attempted to crash a wedding at our hotel, but security swiftly asked us to leave (#proudmoments). Instead, we decided to walk to a club around the corner. Brett paid our cover, the thick velvet curtain was drawn back for us, and for a minute, I was 21 again. Yes, in my mind’s eye, I was young, fresh-faced, sans stretch marks or nursing boobs, and for all intents and purposes, a BABE. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts

Well, that moment lasted about as long as it took for me to get to the dance floor, because then the question hit me: Am I too old? 

I am choosing to believe that the age to enter this club had to have been, like, 14 because some of these kids looked downright preteen. These were tiny, infant children, playing pretend with their mom and dad’s stash of Bud Light and cocktail straws. That has to be it. Otherwise, the alternative is that I was the old one.

Well, I danced. I danced and jumped and sang and did a bunch of other fistpump/pelvic thrust movements because when you’re old, you don’t have time to practice your moves in the mirror of your bathroom anymore. The DJ amused us by playing an assortment of hits from the 90’s, and at one point, Brett and I were booty dancing (do we still call it that?) and yell-singing the six or seven words we were able to make out of “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C. I have no doubt in my mind that those fetus humans we danced alongside went home and told their friends about the crusty old people who humiliated themselves doing the hand-jive in the middle of a struggling dance floor, but honestly, if you can’t dance when you’ve been casually drinking for 12 hours, WHEN CAN YOU DANCE!?!

The moral of this story is that growing up is hard to do, but if you manage to dance your way through it with your friends, you’ll make it out with not much more than a dull headache and a few blurry photos to fondly laugh at later. 

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I’ll be 29 in a few weeks and I’m considering these pumpkin cheesecake tarts as an ode to my earlier years. They’re cute, petite, and wildly delicious. I shared them with a friend who said they would make a terrific alternative to the usual Thanksgiving desserts, but honestly, life is short and we really don’t need an excuse to indulge in delicious desserts. The time for dancing and pumpkin cheesecake tarts is now. 

The recipe for these pumpkin cheesecake tarts is adapted from my bruleed key lime pies, so if you’ve tried those you know how simple these are to make! We start by pressing a shortbread crust into the bottom of 4″ tart pans. I used my favorite shortbread crust from these blueberry lemon bars. The filling is sweet and creamy, similar to a cheesecake, with swirls of pumpkin and all of our favorite fall flavors. After a quick bake in the oven, the tarts are cooled to room temp before being topped with toasted hazelnuts. Sound awesome? Yeah, I thought so.

You can make these pumpkin cheesecake tarts ahead of time and warm slightly just before eating.Whipped cream isn’t mandatory, but I really can’t think of a reason not to go for it; a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg in that whipped cream would be magical. I’ve also tried adding the hazelnuts directly to the shortbread crust, and let me just say that I was NOT disappointed. If you don’t have mini tart pans, you can make this in one larger 10″ tart pan (or maybe even a jelly roll pan as a bar??) as well! You will most definitely have a little extra dough and filling, though, so I recommend making only 2/3 of the recipe and lengthening your bake times.

I hope you give these pumpkin cheesecake tarts a shot. I also hope you weren’t at that bar secretly laughing at my dance moves. 

Cheers to you and happy Monday!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts 

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. These are simple, individual mini tarts made in removable bottom tart pans. An easy cheesecake and canned pumpkin puree filling swirled together with sugar and fall spices like cinnamon. The press in crust is easy to make and the whole thing is topped with sweet and salty walnuts or pecans or other nuts. Find this great dinner party dessert on thewoodandspoon.com

These pumpkin cheesecake tarts are a pumpkin pie and cheesecake mashup, baked in a shortbread crust and topped with toasted hazelnuts. It’s a perfect fall dessert!

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
Scale

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 21/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling

  • 18 ounces block of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, divided
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 11/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts
  • Whipped Cream (if desired)

Instructions

To prepare the crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 6- 4″ tart pans with removable bottoms with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt all at once and stir on low speed until large crumbles begin to form.
  3. Divide the dough between the 6 tart pans and lightly press the dough out evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Place on a sheet pan and in the freezer for the dough to set up for about 10 minutes.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, carefully press out the bottom or any areas where the dough may have gotten droopy in the pans. Be sure to do this while it is still warm from the oven! Set aside while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling

  1. Cream the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Add 1/2 of the can of sweetened condensed milk and beat briefly to combine, scraping the bowl as needed. Add 1 egg, the vanilla, and salt, beating together to combine. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture in a medium sized bowl.
  2. To that 1/2 cup of cream cheese mixture, add the pumpkin, the rest of the sweetened condensed milk, an egg and the egg yolk, and the pumpkin pie spice. Beat to combine, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture in each of the cooled tart shells, and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over top. Drag a knife through the filling to create swirls, if desired.
  4. Place each tart pan on a sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the outer edge of the tart has set well. Allow to cool briefly on the counter for about 30 minutes and then place in the fridge to cool completely. Serve each tart with a sprinkling of hazelnuts and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Notes

  • Be sure the cream cheese is room temperature! If it is still cold while beating, little clumps will form in your batter and you’ll be forced to whisk it through a fine mesh strainer prior to pouring in your tart shells.
  • You can add your hazelnuts directly to your crust by finely chopping them and stirring into the dough clumps. You may have a little extra dough if you use this method, but I totally approve eating little handfuls of it raw. (gasp!)