Pumpkins in pies, cakes are perfect delights

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

One cannot think of Thanksgiving without thinking of pumpkins, and it’s time to think of Thanksgiving. Think of all the things we do at Thanksgiving with pumpkins – soups, pies, cheesecakes and just plain pumpkin cakes. I came across two recipes that are great desserts using pumpkins. You can use the pumpkin left from Halloween, if you do not wish to use canned pumpkin purée. Give these a try or at least one of them and your guests should not be disappointed with your dessert on Thanksgiving.

From the November 2010 issue of ‘Fine Cooking’

Brown Butter

Pumpkin Layer Cake

Serves 8-12

For the purée

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half from stem to bottom and seeded

For the cake

6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans

9 oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

¾ tsp. table salt

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

For the topping

1 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter

2/3 cups pecans

½ cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)

2 tbsp. firmly pack light brown sugar

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1 ½ tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger

For the frosting

4 oz. (½ cup) unsalted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 oz. (1 ½ cups) confectioners’ sugar

Make the pumpkin purée: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with the oil. Put the pumpkin halves in the dish, cut side down and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You will need 1½ cups of the purée for the cake.

Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty, 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty-golden brown, about four minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let cool for about 15 minutes but not set.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves. In a larger bowl, whisk 1½ cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and buttermilk until very blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cook in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms and cool completely.

Make the topping: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about two minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about two minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.

Make the frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty-golden brown, about four minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about five minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 15 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom. Discard the solids. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar on medium high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, about two minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, one to two minutes.

Assemble the cake: Put the cake layer on a cake plate. Spread ½ cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle ½ cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1½ inches from the edges of the cake. Serve immediately or cover with a cake dome and refrigerate up to two days. Serve at room temperature.

From ‘Bon Appétit’, November 2005

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce

12 servings – make a day ahead


½ cups pecans, toasted, cooled

2 tablespoons golden brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

4 large eggs

1 15-ounce can puréed pumpkin

½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Large pinch of salt


1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

½ cup whipping cream

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon salt

3-4 tablespoon bourbon

1 ½ cups pecans, toasted, cooled

For crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan with 2 ¾ inch high sides. Grind first four ingredients in processor until nut mixture sticks together. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Wrap outside of pan in triple layer of heavy-duty foil.

For filling: Using mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon peel until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then pumpkin, yogurt, flour, vanilla, spices and salt. Pour into pan.

Set springform pan in roasting pan. Pour enough water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake. Place in oven. Bake until outer three inches puff slightly and center is softly set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in water bath 30 minutes. Remove from water. Cut around slices of cake to loosen. Refrigerate in pan until cold, about four hours. Cover and chill overnight.

For Sauce: Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup and salt to boil in deep medium saucepan, whisking until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; boil one minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, then pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally.

Remove foil. Cut around pan sides; remove sides. Cut cheesecake into wedges; spoon sauce over.