My quest for awesome things to do with pumpkin puree continues!

Most of my life, I thought I didn’t like bread pudding.  I think it’s because any time I came across it, it always involved raisins (yuck!) and some sort of liqueur.  Plus, as a kid, if a dessert didn’t have chocolate, I wasn’t really interested.  Bread pudding just seemed weird and unpalatable and was moved to the recesses of the dessert-possibilities area of my brain.

A couple of years ago, I was at a dinner where one of the proffered desserts was a black and white bread pudding.  They were little ramekins with a fluffy, creamy yellow cake and inside, molten dark and white chocolate sauces.  *This* was bread pudding?  This was… amazing!  The texture was lovely, the flavors rich and intense.  It was something I would actually choose if I had other options.  Sold!

Making this dessert at home, though, never happened until recently.  I never had a whole loaf of day-old bread hanging around, or the necessary staple ingredients, or a good recipe, etc. etc.  Completely randomly, I came across some recipes for Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  Would it be texturally palatable?  Would it be the right sort of flavor?  Given that the other new things I’ve tried with pumpkin have been a success, signs pointed to “yes.”  I chose a basic recipe, from The Joy of Baking, then bought a loaf of Italian bread to keep on the counter for a day or two.

Oh. My. WOW.  This was so good!  Not too sweet, so it’s not overwhelming when combined with the super-sugary toffee sauce.  I’d never had or made toffee sauce before, and it was easy.  The whole thing was really easy.  The most labor- and mess-intensive part was preparing the bread.  I removed the crusts, because I like a creamy pudding;  leaving the crusts on will make the pudding more chewy.  You can do whichever suits you.  I also used Egg Beaters, about 2/3-C, in place of the 2 eggs+1 yolk, and added a good pinch of nutmeg to the spices.

Get an 8×8 brownie pan and let’s get going!

Ingredients:

  • 5 C day-old bread, crusts removed or left on, cubed
  • 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 C pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 C half-and-half
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the toffee sauce:

  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350; place rack in center.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, half & half, butter, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt.
  • Add the bread cubes, and toss to coat well.  Make sure that all of the pieces get nice and soaked.
  • Place the bread in an ungreased 8×8 pan, and bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • An option is to put the plain bread in the pan, pour over the custard mixture, toss really well, and bake the whole thing for 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Silky custard FTW!

To make the toffee sauce:

  • In a saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, and cream to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Watch the heat and make sure it doesn’t burn!  Remove from heat, and add the vanilla.  This can be made ahead of time and re-warmed.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Yep, still on a pumpkin kick!  I actually adapted this from a cookie recipe at Grouprecipes.com.  According to the comments on many different pumpkin cookie recipes around the web, pumpkin cookies often tend to come out cake-like, so I experimented by making half of the batter as cookies, and the other half in a muffin tin.  The muffins came out much better, I thought, but were too heavy to really be called muffins, yet were not really cupcake-y either.  So “mini cakes” it is!

You can add chocolate chips or good chopped bar chocolate to this, if you like.  I had a bar of Green & Black’s 70% and used about a third of the bar, chopped, but 70% was really too high and clashed a little with the other flavors; 60% would be better.  (I haven’t used milk chocolate with pumpkin, but if it’s good, please let me know.)  Chopped toasted walnuts would also be a good addition.

If you don’t have Pumpkin Pie spice, use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice.  Another option with this is to add a pinch of ground cloves, too.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together in medium bowl.
  • Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl, then add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and beat until creamy.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time.
  • If adding chocolate or nuts, fold them in now.
  • Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-22 minutes or until golden on top.   Enjoy!

I love baking sweet things with pumpkin puree.  I’ve been making pumpkin pancakes on Sundays, and need to do something with the rest of the puree — pumpkin breads generally take a whole 15 oz can, so it’s over to things like muffins and cookies (and more pancakes!) to use it up.   I recently did a pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, and thought how nice it would be to do muffins, so I went on a search and got to choose between a ton of different recipes, some more complex than others.

This simple  recipe comes from The Joy of Baking.  These muffins are moist and tasty and were quickly eaten!  I used a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin, no paper linings, and did not need to spray or grease the cups.  This recipe calls for sifting the dry ingredients, but I don’t have a sifter, so I whisked them, which probably doesn’t lend the same amount of fluffiness to the finished muffins — but they still came out great.   The only alteration I made was to be generous with the spices, using rounded measurements instead of flat.  Next time I’ll try sprinkling a little brown sugar on the tops of the muffins before baking, for a delicious crunchy topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs ( I used 1/2 C of Egg Beaters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 C chocolate chips (I used 60% Ghirardelli chips)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Sift dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
  • In large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Beat in vanilla.
  • Alternately add 1/3 of the dry mixture and 1/2 of the pumpkin puree, mixing after each addition, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Spoon into muffin tins and bake 18-20 minutes (mine needed the full 20 minutes).

Let them cool for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.  Yum!

Recently, Top Chef featured a Quickfire challenge with a tie-in to the website Cookstr.com,  a new-ish recipe site with an interface like Chow‘s that lets you easily bookmark your favorite recipes.  I’ve been browsing my way through the plethora of cooking sites out there, eagerly noting the small number of recipes on each that 1) are vegetarian but don’t involve mushrooms or tofu, and 2) contain things I can realistically make.  Since I’m constantly seeking new blogs and sites to read, I added it to my bookmarks.

One recipe I was happy to find there was chef Pichet Ong’s recipe for Mango Pudding.  It’s a Hong Kong-style dessert that uses sauteed fresh mangoes; I’d just bought mangoes and needed a recipe.  Not just any recipe, but one that doesn’t require a puree.  You see, I don’ t currently have a food processor or a blender or even a hand-mixer.  If I did, I’d have made a bunch of mango lassis.  This preparation reduces the mango pulp down to a jam-like syrupy consistency.  I recommend Alton Brown’s method of cutting mangoes.

This recipe makes quite a bit – it says 8, but it ended up being 10 with the size of the ramekins that we have. (Currently, our “ramekins” are teacups.)  I’ve also posted a variation on the Milk Chantilly recipe, adding Indian flavors to tie it in with a curry dinner I’d made.  Some spices would probably go very nicely in the pudding itself, too.

Mango Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 6 mangoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (tip: How to Choose Mangoes at the Store)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp (1 packet) powdered gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 4 C whipping cream

Instructions:

  • Put mangoes, lemon juice, and salt in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mangoes are very soft.
  • Add sugar and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring and scraping pan, until mixture becomes thick and syrupy, with a few chunks of mango remaining.  Do not let the sugar caramelize and get brown.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm temperature.
  • Dissolve the gelatin in 3 Tbsp cold water.  Mix it into the lukewarm mango mixture until it dissolves into the mixture.
  • Stir in the cream until well-incorporated.
  • Divide into ramekins.  Chill 3 hours.

Serve with Milk Chantilly:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

  • Whisk cream until soft peaks form
  • Fold in sweetened condensed milk and salt, and whisk again until medium-soft peaks form

Makes 2 Cups.

Here’s my improvised Cardamom Chantilly:   After adding the sweetened condensed milk and salt, add about 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, and a pinch of cinnamon if desired.  Continue whipping as instructed above.