Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Every time I bring food to a social environment in which I don't know everyone well, it makes me awfully nervous. Like what if no one likes it and people never want to eat my food again? It was Ming's birthday on Monday, and since we had that day off, I brought a cake in to work for him on Tuesday. We put it off since we had a meeting at JHU, which made me even more nervous because what if it gets all stale from sitting around for the entire day? We finally cut into it when we got back at the end of the work day, and luckily it was still moist and tasty. This recipe must be a keeper.

In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients: 1 2/3 cups flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice (I didn't have any, so just used more nutmeg), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp baking soda.

In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 stick of softened butter until light and fluffy.

Beat in 2 eggs and 1 cup of pumpkin puree.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat until just combined.

Fill in greased round pan (I used 10" springform) and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized walnut decorations. In a small pan, melt 1/2 cup sugar on medium-high heat until golden brown. Remove from heat, then drop walnut halves into the melted sugar and use a fork to turn walnut until completely coated (if sugar hardens, return to low heat to melt). Transfer to a foil-lined plate to cool.

Once the cake is done baking, remove from heat and wait to cool. If the top is domed, you might want to lop it off so that it's flat (see instructions for cake balls using this dome at the end of this post). Do NOT make this icing until the cake is almost completely cooled. In a small pan, melt 4 Tbsp butter until nut brown. 

Pour browned butter into a bowl with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 Tbsp milk. Mix well.

Ta da! Spread frosting on top and add the walnuts. I wish that I had an offset spatula so that the frosting would look prettier, but oh wells. 

I chopped off the top dome of my cake so that it would be all flat and pretty to decorate, and the excess cake was used to make cake balls. I forgot to take pictures of the process but it's pretty simple. In a bowl, mix together the cake dome (about 1/4 of the cake) with approx 2 oz cream cheese. You might need to use your fingers to make sure that everything is well incorporated. In a separate bowl, melt 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips on low heat in the microwave (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate). Swirl the cake balls in the chocolate and place on foil-lined sheet, then cool everything in the fridge. Any excess chocolate can be used to make chocolate covered strawberries.

Om nom.

Cake balls from Helen's imagination/ previous experience

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