Tag Archives: Pumpkin

Halloween cake pops: Portland

9 Nov


Happy belated Halloween!

I had a lot of fun creating these cake pops and they were well received at work. But boy did they take a lot of time. I figure I made about 40, and each one took time to roll, dip and decorate.

The easiest part was making the cake. I decided on pumpkin cake (seemed appropriate) and cream cheese frosting. For decoration, minimalist seemed like a good idea, seeing as presentation has never been my strongest suit in baking.


It all started with the standard creaming of sugar and butter, though I think the photos of this process always look pretty.


One problem I had was that I made too much cake in too big a pan. I doubled a cake recipe so it would fit in a 9×13 pan, but that turned out to be way too much cake and it didn’t cook evenly. So the sides and bottom ended up overcooked (brown and kind of dry) and the very top ended up undercooked. But the middle was fine, so I added most of that to the frosting later.


Cream cheese frosting went well with the spicy pumpkin cake.


After the frosting was done, I crumbled the good parts of the cake — I ended up having about half my cake left after I was done — and combined it slowly.


The mixing process took a while, but once the cake and frosting were combined, I ended up with a moldable, vaguely crumbly dough.


It took a good 20 minutes to roll each ball into shape (and because I’m a perfectionist, they had to be perfectly round). Then they went into the freezer to solidify before dipping.


The dipping process was fun, if not entirely tedious. But I learned what not to do if I make cake pops again. In lieu of a double boiler (which I do not own), I used the old bowl over the pot trick. Worked out pretty well.


Because I haven’t made these before, I caved and bought candy melts, but each package didn’t hold that much, so I might try some other coating next time. I discovered how important it is for the cake pops to be really thoroughly chilled when the go into the candy melt, lest they start falling off the stick and breaking. Bakerella’s instructions for dipping were immensely helpful, particularly the note about adding vegetable oil if the candy melt consistency was too viscous for easy dipping.


I had some trouble with the dipping step because, after a while, the candy melts harden pretty quickly, so making the cake pops look pretty got difficult. Few of mine looked completely smooth, and I often had to use a spatula to help cover the whole cake pop.


After dipping, I used some sprinkles to add some extra fall color to these treats. The inside was a little more mushy than other cake pops I’ve seen, which I’ll attribute to the consistency of the cake and the amount of frosting I used.

For a first try, I’m happy with how these turned out. Now on to the cookie challenge!


Challenge: Halloween cake pops

22 Sep

Halloween cake pops

Because it’s almost October, I unveil our next blog challenge: Halloween cake pops. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at cake pops, and Haloween seems like the perfect holiday for decoration inspiration. And these will be easy to share with coworkers and roommates.

Months ago, I bought this cake pops decorating kit (above) and sent one to Hannah too, with the intention of using it soon after on Cats and Commas. (The fabric underneath is another unfinished project — what was supposed to be Halloween napkins.) Time to put it to use.

Here are a few recipes and tutorials for Halloween-themed cake pops. The great thing is you can make them any design you want. Excited to see what Hannah and I will come up with.

As always, here’s to fall, and happy baking!





Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles: Denver

10 Nov
I would like to start by noting that this recipe was so simple I actually am struggling with what all to say about it. I followed some simple directions. I got incredible results. I ate a lot of cookies. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.
Like Nora’s, my pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies were cakey – I think I liked them extra for that fact. I like soft cookies, and these were little clouds of pumpkin spice. I swear, I don’t think Crepes of Wrath has ever lead me awry.
I love snickerdoodles, in part because they remind me (for no reason other than nomenclature) of one of my VERY favorite childhood books – The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews (yes, that Julie Andrews). It’s a fantastic book and maybe one day I will sit down and re-read it as an adult.
That said, these were fairly un-snickerdoodley, if you overlook the sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. They didn’t have any cream of tartar in them (one of the hallmark tastes of snickerdoodles, in my book), and as Nora said in her post, they didn’t have that signature crisp of snickerdoodles. So, perhaps “pumpkin snickerdoodle” is a misnomer. I don’t care much at all – these were some of the best cookies I think I’ve produced in quite a long time.
I started sifting dry ingredients…
I actually cut the dry sugar down and amped up the molasses content in these cookies. I know I have expostulated about my love of molasses on this blog before, but I do so love it. It’s the southerner in me, I suppose.
Anyway – I left enough sugar in this recipe to help mix the butter into tiny fat particles, but eliminated enough that I could still add some extra molasses without having them be too sweet.
So – extra molasses into the wet mixture (which I did not photograph because I am lazy and also it was not very appealing). Then, I got the dry and wet mixtures juuuuuust mixed together –And…
What a texture! This dough was like satin.
I rolled it into balls and dipped each ball into the cinnamon sugar mix before flattening them onto a cookie sheet.
I love that my unbaked cookies have the exact same indentation pattern as Nora’s did.
In and out they came. (Easiest. Cookies. Ever.) Unlike with a LOT of seasonal pumpkin baked goods, I didn’t think these were too heavy on the spices (regularly, I find that all I can taste in this sort of thing is nutmeg, which is a nice flavor, but not exactly “pumpkin spice”).
I am already thinking I might need to make another batch of these ASAP. Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to think of another cookie that I liked as much as these. My Orange Chocolate Brownie cookies with M&Ms (linking to Nora’s, since my post for those was weak) from almost exactly a year ago maaaaaybe squeak by this batch, but it’s a close one.

Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles: Portland

8 Nov

Evidently, there is a fine line between gingerbreads and snickerdoodles. Which I crossed. Though my cookies turned out to resemble the former more than the latter, I can’t say I’m unhappy. In fact, these are quite possibly my favorite fall cookies I’ve ever encountered. Half cake, half cookie, they were chewy and rich, with all the pumpkin I could want.

I decided to make these for a Halloween get-together where we supposed to watch scary movies. We ended up watching Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners.” This is the movie he made right before embarking on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but you’d never know it. I still liked it though. Call it comically campy. Anyway, on to the cookies.

As you might have heard me say before, if it has pumpkin, I’m sold. (See above ingredients.)

First step was to beat the sugar and butter. I am trying to become more patient with letting my butter sit out at room temperature before I am tempted to work with it.

Next the pumpkin and molasses got added to the mix.

Finally, the flour mixture I whisked up earlier (not pictured due to mundane nature of photo) brought it to its cookie consistency.

I liked this recipe especially because it didn’t require time to chill the dough before rolling it, which leaves more time for cinnamon-sugar. Dusting the dough with sugar and cinnamon is probably the best part about making snickerdoodles, which I remember from when Blaine and I have made these before.
Here’s what the baking beauties looked like on the pan. Again, I think I rolled them out too big, and I ultimately didn’t make them flat enough. To my credit, though, they rose a lot as they baked, and they weren’t underdone when I took them out.

Here’s how they turned out. I’m pretty proud of how these look. They’re almost uniform. And notice the indentations on each one.

As I said before, they were more airy and cake-like than I was expecting for snickerdoodles (which are usually more crunchy and buttery), but if it has pumpkin, I’ll eat it.

Pumpkin-beer bread: Portland

23 Oct

BAKER’S NOTE: My camera wasn’t working again (but it’s fine now), so I was relegated to these sub-par phone photos. It doesn’t really do the pumpkiny goodness justice, but you get the point.

I love quick breads, I love pumpkin, and I love beer. This recipe perfectly combines the trifecta into a moist, spicy loaf that’s almost like a cake. In fact, I was tempted to add cream cheese frosting to make it fancy. But I got lazy, as so often happens. The bread itself, though, was incredibly easy and tasy. So easy, in fact, that I made it three times in a week. Two were for work (before I left for vacation), and one was for my family reunion in Nebraska.

imageFirst, the dry ingredients, including the necessary spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.),went together. It’s not a pumpkin dish without those three spices.

imageNext, after the butter was melted, the brown sugar, vanilla, egg, pumpkin and beer came together on the stove. For the pumpkin beer, I chose Elysian (a brewery out of Seattle), which has an owl on its label. I’ve been trying a lot of pumpkin beers at this place we go for trivia every week because they switch nearly every time I go in, so I’ve had my fair share this fall. In baking, the quality of the beer isn’t as important, but for straight drinking, this one was pretty good. For the family reunion loaf, I used O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer, which produced pretty much the same effect.

imageNext, the dry and the wet ingredients came together in typical fashion, at which point they went into my trusty loaf pan (below) to bake more a little more than an hour.

imageUnfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of the finished product (next challenge, I’ll have my camera back), but I can say that this bread turned out incredibly moist and sweet. As I said before, almost like cake.

Challenge #18: Pumpkin-beer bread

16 Sep

Well, that was a freebie. Knowing all about my prodigious love of pumpkin, Chris Rose posted this recipe on Facebook a few days ago, and I knew just what to do with it.

Instead of just pumpkin, add pumpkin ale. Things like this are why I love fall.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: Portland

6 Nov

As has been well established, I love pumpkin. But I think this may be my last pumpkin foray of the season (well, until Thanksgiving demands a pie). Coincidentally, even though I had four recipes to choose from online, I found a recipe for “Pumpkin Chocolate Whoopie Pies” in this month’s issue of Everyday Food (the Thanksgiving issue was too good to pass up, and there’s actually some pretty good stuff in there). The only thing I was missing for this one was heavy cream, but I left it out, and they turned out tasting fine (albeit a little less airy).

As you can see, I like to bake on Saturdays and watch my Thursday/Friday shows. Here’s David Giuntoli looking sexy in “Grimm,” set and filmed in Portland. If you’re not familiar with the show, the premise (which I’ll admit sounds goofy) is that the Grimm fairy tales are true and happening in real life. It’s a crime drama that’s pretty nerdy, with a hint of cultural and historical literacy.
I used a spoon to shape my pies into something resembling a cookie, but sort of looking like mashed sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. The dough was super easy to mix together, and I very much like drop cookies because they’re so simple.

The frosting, on the other hand, was something of an experiment. I didn’t have all the ingredients to make one of the frosting recipes I found, so I improvised with what I had — marshmallow fluff, cocoa powder, half and half, powdered sugar and caramel. You can see there are some big chunks of caramel floating around, which taste great but are difficult to eat.

The pies turned out well, though near the end I starting making them really huge. Next time, I’ll make sure not to get to carried away with my scooping.

I didn’t assemble them all at once because the frosting was so runny. I figured it would keep me from eating too many anyway if I had to take all that time to frost one. Next time, I’ll probably stick to a recipe for the frosting, as the consistency left much to be desired. A little gooey and messy to eat, but they sure are delicious!
But now that pumpkin season is “over,” it’s time for me to move on to my next seasonal fixation: squash. This week: Spaghetti squash casserole.