Pumpkin Spice Choc chunk Cake(s)

Pumpkin Bundt.jpg

The original recipe calls for baking these decadent cakes in two loaf pans as glazed pumpkin breads. My dear friend Kerri made them often in LA sans glaze, but when I moved back to NY and began using their house as my Cali base, she confided that her husband (and our best friend...as well as Godfather of our children) has minor fits that I show up at their front door late at night fresh off a cross-country flight, let myself in (I have my keys, which is his first mistake) and then proceed to eat it all of Kerri's freshly baked pumpkin bread myself, saving him a pretty cake plate of crumbs come morning. (I also drink all of their wine, but apparently the pumpkin bread is sacred.) In fairness, it's ridiculously sweet, the pumpkin simply elevating the decadence without overpowering, and while the top becomes golden, the center is incredibly moist. While Kerri shares all of her recipes, she may have sent this one quickly so the locks aren't changed on me. 

I adapted the recipe just slightly and began baking the pumpkin bread in a large bundt pan as more of a cake. Because I behave more appropriately as a houseguest in most other situations (ie. where I don't know the alarm code) this is my go-to recipe to bring as a fall/winter treat. Not only does it go fast, but lifelong pumpkin resisters - from granddads to picky kids - become fast converts.

Knowing that we have a lot of Halloween, Thanksgiving and fall season holiday parties coming up, I decided to try out the recipe as mini-bundt cakes to wrap up and deliver as homemade treats. 

The notes below will detail the simple ways to bake the cake as two loaves, a single large bundt or as mini favors. 

Happy Fall! 

xoxo,

Nicole

 

Adapted from my dear friend Kerri who adapted it from somewhere on Pinterest ;)

*The recipe has never been in proper format and since the only steps are to dump everything in a bowl, I have left it that way.

 

PUMPKIN SPICE CAKE(S)

Ingredients:

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1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 cup vegetable oil

3 cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks (milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips will work just fine)

 

Instructions:

Grease with butter 2 (9 X 5 inch) loaf pans OR one standard size bundt pan OR approximately 24 small bundts on a sheet (I prefer never to use cooking spray, but especially with this recipe). Place rack at center of oven and pre-heat at 350 degrees.

Add each of the ingredients (excluding chocolate) to the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at low speed until well blended, but take care not to overdo it. Fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter evenly into the loaf pans, bundt mold or mini bundts (*For mini-bundts, you do not need to fill the batter to the top as the cakes will rise slightly). 

Bake according to times below. When the wooden pick comes out clean, remove the pan(s) from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Do give in to temptation and turn the pans over to release the cakes until they have completely cooled. They will fall apart (I know from experience). 

 

*Bake Time:

Regardless of the pan, bake until the tops are golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remember, every oven is a little bit different and this is one of those recipes that may require a little extra time in either direction, especially since bundt pans can vary, so stay vigilant with that wooden pick. 

-2 LOAF PANS - The original recipe calls for 55 minutes. Kerri and I agree that we begin checking at this point, but we find that it typically takes about 1 hr and 5 min.

-STANDARD BUNDT PAN - The Barnhouse oven can be a bit slower, so I begin checking on this at about 1 hr 5 min, it typically takes another 5 to 10 (1 hr 10-15 minutes) for that pick to come out clean.

-MINI BUNDTS - My sheet has 24 cavities that are about 3 inches wide. It takes between 25 - 30 min for that pick to come out clean.

 

Insta Playlist

"Supersonic" - J.J. Fad

"Gangsta's Paradise" - Coolio

"Valerie" - Amy Winehouse

"Hold it Now, Hit It" - Beastie Boys

"Nightmare on My Street" - DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince

"Doo Wop (That Thing)"- Lauryn Hill

"Halo" - Beyonce

 

 

 

White Bean Soup

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

(from The Archives - originally published November 11, 2016)

When times are tough, you’ll often find me in the kitchen. And no, not just eating my feelings, although my emergency candy stash does not consume itself. But when I’m truly untethered — at a loss for understanding, for strength, for comfort and for direction — my initial instict after the first waves of emotion ebb, is to grab my cookbooks, rummage through my cabinets for available ingredients and fervently and purposefully cook.

A favorite image from a couple of years ago, cooking with Sweetlips & The Bean. Lola is under the table waiting for them to drop nibbles. (Instagram: @garlandcollection)

A favorite image from a couple of years ago, cooking with Sweetlips & The Bean. Lola is under the table waiting for them to drop nibbles. (Instagram: @garlandcollection)

It busies my hands and steadies my body that otherwise wants to keep moving but to nowhere and to no end, while the monotous chopping and meticulous recipe following mechanically sorts the madness in my head into a rhythmic order. The primal need to care for and nourish those I love is a way for me to find that center and sharing a meal or a moment with friends and family grounds me and pulls me home.

Cooking a pot pie does not solve the worlds’ problems, but sometimes the cut onions camouflage my tears for my children who expect me to be their compass and the quiet clarity bestowed by the simple concentration of baking cookies…flour…sugar…salt…allows the path forward to come into focus. The coming together that homecooked food inspires — that human connection — refuels and reheartens the detemination to forge ahead tomorrow.

Over the years, I have used this space as a way to connect with all of you and I have very much wanted to get back at it. This felt like a good time to start. You will probably be seeing a lot of favorite recipes again from me in the coming days and I hope that you will try them and take a moment with those you love. For a bit of levity, you may scroll down for more — some hits…and some of my, ahem, misses. If you have a dessert that brings your family and friends together or a souffle that soothes your soul, I would be thrilled for you to also share it here. Everyone is welcome at the table.

Sending LOVE from me and Lola…

I have shared this one before, but it’s one of my all time favorites for a reason:

Adapted from the wonderful The Family Dinner cookbook by Laurie David. A very special cookbook that offers recipes, anecdotes and ways to bring the family together at the table. The book’s gorgeous photographs are by my talented and dear friend Maryellen Baker. I’ve added a few personal *notes on how I’ve used this recipe at my own stove. Enjoy!

 

WHITE BEAN AND TINY PASTA SOUP

by Kirstin Uhrenholdt

8 ounces tiny pasta, like orzo, tiny shells or small macaroni

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped (optional)

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 15-ounce cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained (or 5 cups home-cooked beans)

6 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh

Rind of a piece of Parmesan cheese (optional, but very tasty)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

*Grated Parmesan (my own addition)

*Kale (my own addition)

Optional Garnishes

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Slices of rustic bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted

Chopped parsley 

TO MAKE 6-8 SERVINGS

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat up your soup pot and drizzle in enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Sauté the pancetta with the onion until golden. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer under a lid for at least half an hour. (This soup is happy to sit and simmer quietly on your stove for an hour, although you might need to add a little broth.)

Remove the rosemary and Parmesan rind. Puree a cup or two of the soup in your blender. Even easier, stick a hand immersion blender into the soup for a quick moment, just until it thickens a bit. *I spoon a few cups of the soup into a large bowl and use the immersion blender there. This way I don’t over-blend and annihilate all of those hearty white beans.

Fold the cooked pasta into the soup. (If you have little kids, perhaps you should save a bit of pasta and use it as garnish, to assure them that there is something they like in the soup.)  *The soup is so hearty that I actually leave all of the pasta on the side. This way, my husband and I can enjoy the soup on its own and our kids can “make their own soup” by adding it in.

Taste for salt and pepper.

*Notes:

*I also add a bit of grated parmesan to taste as well at the end. And, while it’s to part of the original recipe, I like to add a bit of kale at the end as well.

* I leave the following out, but these are optional garnishes in the original: On the rim of each soup bowl, balance a slice of toast, ladle the soup on top, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and a shower of Parmesan and parsley.

YUM!