Soft pumpkin cookies filled with rum-soaked raisins, pecans, white chocolate morsels, and Buttershots-spiked cream cheese will keep you warm and cozy this fall. They’re even brushed with a thin boozy glaze hot out of the oven, and then again once the cookies have cooled. It’s hard to get enough alcohol in cookie dough without compromising the texture, so it took a variety of approaches to pull it off.
Buy the kids some Oreos; these babies are for you!
4 tablespoons alcohol (I used a mixture of rum and Buttershots)
1 cup powdered sugar
Place raisins and ½ cup rum in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over med-low heat. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let raisins sit for at least 30 minutes, or until lukewarm. They should be plump and rum should be reduced.
Heat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
COOKIE DOUGH: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk. Beat well.
Add raisins (with the reduced rum), pumpkin, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pecans, and white chips. Mix until incorporated.
CREAM CHEESE SWIRL: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg white, butterscotch liqueur, flour, and baking powder until smooth.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the dough and fold it in just 6-7 times, leaving big white streaks. Then pull your cookie scoop or spoon through, aiming for a mixture with more dough than swirl. I like to gather a little cream cheese first, then scoop through dough, which puts the pretty swirl on top of the cookie as it bakes.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed. While cookies are baking, make glaze:
GLAZE: Whisk together the alcohol and powdered sugar until smooth. Brush it over hot cookies, then give them another light glaze once they've cooled.
This is over the top, even for me! Two moist layers of apple cake are baked with a graham cracker crust, sandwiched with spicy apple filling, and covered with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Because I love mixing textures, this cake also sports a crunchy streusel topping. I guess you could consider this part pie, part cake . . . and the essence of fall.
My first attempt at this recipe yielded a lovely cake that was so sweet I could barely eat a small piece. And you must not underestimate my tolerance for sweet things. The flavor was just what I had hoped for, but . . . wow. Really, really sweet.
So I went back and reduced sugar in the crust and the filling, and switched the buttercream frosting with cream cheese frosting. Now it’s just right!
Most homemade cakes involve a cake, filling, and frosting. But I’ve added two additional steps: the graham cracker crust and the streusel. In for a penny, in for a pound, as far as I’m concerned, but if you’re strapped for time, feel free to:
Eliminate the streusel. Place the top layer so the graham crust is at the top, then just pipe around the edge.Still pretty!
Skip the graham crust. No one will know. (My daughter would be aghast at this suggestion. We both love this crust on cakes.)
Two 8-inch layers of apple cake, apple pie filling, graham cracker crust, and streusel topping create a fall classic.
2 cups (about 15 whole) crushed graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup oil
3 large eggs
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups coarsely grated apple (peeled and cored)
2 cups chopped apples (peeled and cored)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
¼ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon (more for a darker color)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, add ⅛ teaspoon salt)
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon (more to taste)
1 pound powdered sugar (about 4½ cups)
CAKE: Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray two 8-inch (2 inch deep) round pans with baking spray (or grease and flour them). Place a round of parchment in the bottom of each pan.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ½ cup melted butter. Divide between the two pans and press evenly, using a straight-edged measuring cup to pack the mixture very firmly. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1 minute. Scrape sides of bowl. Continue to beat as you drizzle in the oil. Beat for 3 minutes, scraping occasionally.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
Stirring by hand (or on low speed) add half the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
Add half of the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix just until combined.
Stir in remaining flour, then remaining buttermilk. Do not overmix.
Gently fold in grated apples. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly. If in doubt, give it a few more minutes; an underbaked cake will sink in the middle.
Move cakes to cooling racks. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
FILLING:In a medium pan over low heat, combine chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until apples begin to release liquid, then turn heat up to medium low and bring to a low boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together cornstarch, lemon juice, and water. Add to boiling mixture. Stir and cook until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Apples vary in juiciness and you may need to add a little more water or a little more cornstarch slurry to achieve a spreadable filling. Allow filling to cool completely..
STREUSEL: heat oven to 375 F. Combine white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter. Crumble onto a small parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven when streusel begins to brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet.
ICING:Beat butter and cream cheese together well, scraping bowl often. Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until combined. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. For easy handling, chill for 30 minutes before using.
ASSEMBLY:Place one cake layer, graham crust side down, on serving plate. Pipe a line of icing around the top, near the edge, creating a dam. Fill with apple filling and top with second layer, crust side down. Ice the sides of the cake, and lightly ice the top, then cover top with streusel, pressing firmly into icing. Pipe around top and bottom if desired.
Press graham cracker mixture firmly into pans. Really pack it down!
Spread the cake batter over the graham cracker crust, as evenly as possible.
Hot and fragrant from the oven.
Filling should hold its shape. If it’s too thick, add a little water. If it’s too thin, you may need to make a little more cornstarch mixture. (Some apples are juicier than others.)
Stir the streusel once or twice during bake time. It will feel soft, but trust me – it hardens once it cools! Don’t let it get too dark.
Spread the filling right up to the frosting dam on the first layer. If you have extra, it’s great on vanilla ice cream!
Frost it, decorate it, and fill the top with crumbled streusel. SERVE!
And because I really love this next photo I’m going to leave it right here. I had it at the top of the page but took it down because several people on a cooking website said it looked like taco meat on top. And now all I can see is taco meat, when I know it is just a lot of cinnamon (and perhaps a minute or two too long in the oven). Taco meat. Pffft. Hey! Love me, love my streusel!
If you made it to the bottom of this post, I salute you! And I promise something easy for next time.
This sinfully rich pound cake is dense and moist and grows more flavorful as it ages. It gets its subtle maple taste from the addition of Maple Crown Royal whiskey. (No, I’m not getting a kickback from them, and yes, I’ll give you non-alcohol alternatives.) It has a delicate crispy crust from coating the pan with sugar before adding the batter, and I kicked the sweet maple flavor up a notch by using maple sugar— but that’s just me; I can never get enough maple!
I played with the icing on this cake. On my first attempt, I made a ganache from maple morsels (something new on the market) and was less than impressed. So I went back to my trusty brown sugar icing and spiked it with maple whiskey. Much better!
If you have a little of this icing left, and you haven’t just eaten it with a spoon, try adding a spoonful to a cup of hot coffee. I like my coffee strong and black, but I’ve got to say, this was delightful. Go ahead and refrigerate it if you want; it’ll cool the coffee down a bit when you add it. You may even want to double the recipe!
2 cups white sugar (plus enough to coat the inside of the pan)
½ cup dark brown sugar
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
6 eggs, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk (Bulgarian style, if possible)
½ cup Crown Royal Maple Finished Whiskey*
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter, add an additional ¼ teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
* If preferred, substitute ½ cup buttermilk and 1 teaspoon maple flavoring for whiskey)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maple whiskey
Heat oven to 350 F.
Prepare a 10-inch bundt pan by coating it generously with vegetable oil (or coconut oil or shortening - don't use butter!) and then sprinkling thoroughly with sugar.
In a large bowl, beat the white sugar, brown sugar, and butter together for 3-4 minutes. The mixture should lighten in color.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly and scraping the sides of the bowl with each addition. Take your time! It should take you several minutes to add 6 eggs.
Add the liquid and dry ingredients alternately in three additions, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the liquids. Beat just enough to combine each time, taking care to scrape the bowl down often.
Spoon into prepared bundt pan carefully so you don't disturb the sugar on the sides. Smooth the top and bake for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. The top should be rich brown and a long toothpick inserted in the cake should come out clean.
Allow cake to rest on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then flip it over. Wait a few more minutes before lifting off the pan. Let cake cool before making icing.
ICING: Put brown sugar, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it boils, let it cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and maple whiskey. Whisk vigorously until the icing is smooth. Pour over cooled cake. If you have a little extra, it can be gently reheated and drizzled over ice cream. (if it's too thick, feel free to add a bit more whiskey!)
I’m working my way through some caramel recipe ideas that have been keeping me awake at night, and it hasn’t been a hardship for me at all; I love caramel! I don’t think I’ve ever met a bowl of caramel corn that I didn’t like, and this is no exception. Of course, I also love candy corn. If you’re not a fan (and I know there are some of you out there) you can substitute something else that screams “Fall” to you. Maybe Reeses Pieces? M&Ms? Black licorice? (Haha, got you there. Black licorice would be gross. I think. Hmm.)
I like lots of nuts in my caramel corn, so I used a generous amount of peanuts. Any nuts would be good, though. They have a tendency to stay at the bottom of the pan, so do try to encourage them to mingle with the popcorn. Of course, if you remember what Cracker Jack was like, the peanuts (all two of them) were always at the bottom of the box. Rebels!
A drizzle of melted white, yellow, and orange candy melts added to the festive autumn theme. Go lightly with melted white chocolate; it can overwhelm the flavor of the caramel, and you wouldn’t want to do that!
I use little pastry bags and melt the white chocolate in a glass of hot water. No mess!
The recipe calls for 4 quarts of popcorn, which may sound like a lot, but believe me—it really isn’t. This stuff has a tendency to disappear before your very eyes, and it stores well in an airtight container. I used mushroom popcorn because I wanted the big, round, fluffy kernels.
Speaking of recipes, do you see how short this one is? That’s because this is EASY. And oh, so satisfying. Do it! Seriously, just do it!
10 each: white, yellow, and orange candy melts (optional)
Grease a really large pot or bowl. (I use coconut oil.) Put popcorn and nuts in the pot and stir to combine. Set aside.
Lightly grease a 12x18x2" cake pan - or two 9x12" pans. Set aside.
Heat oven to 225 F.
In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, honey, water, and salt over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Drop heat to medium-low. Adjust as necessary to keep mixture gently boiling for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat.
Stir in the vanilla and baking soda and pour over the popcorn and nuts. Stir well.
Scoop into the prepared baking pan(s) and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir in the candy corn. Dump out onto a piece of parchment or foil and allow caramel corn to cool completely.
Melt each color of candy melt separately - either in small dishes in the microwave or by putting candy in small pastry bags or zip-type bags in a glass of hot water. (Don't let water touch the candy or it will seize up.) Drizzle over caramel corn. Let the drizzle harden before storing or serving.
Celebrate fall with these luscious cupcakes filled with caramel, pecan, and cream cheese. Adding a drizzle of caramel and an elegant caramel rose will create a perfect dessert for the upcoming holidays.
The cupcakes are delicious, but let’s not pretend that they’re the focus here. It’s the rose. It’s all about the rose!
Believe it or not, the roses are very simple to make. All you’ll need is a bag of caramels, a sturdy rolling pin, a small round cutter, and parchment paper. I was blown away by how easy it was to work with caramels. They aren’t sticky, they don’t dry out when you’re playing with them, and they stretch and curl obligingly when you want them to. They stay pliable and . . . well . . . edible, unlike gum paste or candy clay.
And the cake itself is very basic. If your inclination is to reach for a boxed mix, I understand. But if you’d like to try your hand at making a cake from scratch, this would be the recipe to use. You’d have to add eggs, butter, and water to the mix; why not add just a few more ingredients, make the cake from scratch, and avoid the additives that are in packaged mixes?
I think the hardest thing about this recipe is unwrapping the caramels, but if I can do it YOU can do it! Speaking of caramels, do you remember when Kraft had chocolate caramels, too? They’re back. Hard to find, but I just ordered some online. I’ll bet they’d make lovely roses too.
An 11-ounce bag will give you about 40 caramels. You’ll use 22 for the roses, and the remaining 18 for the filling. (Good grief, don’t sweat it if you’re short a caramel or two. You have to check to make sure they’re fresh, right?)
So, you’ll start out with the filling, then make the cake batter. You can create the roses while the cupcakes are baking, and make the frosting once they have cooled. And you know the drill: boxed cake, canned frosting, leave out the filling . . . anything goes. Simple chocolate cupcakes with fudge icing would look great with the roses too. Just make sure you make the roses!
½ cup chopped pecans (toasted for the best flavor)
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1½ cups cake flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Buttercream icing (or icing of your choice)
In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the caramels and cream, stirring often. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar thoroughly. Add egg yolk and beat well.
Once the caramel is lukewarm but still fluid, add to cream cheese mixture. Beat well. Stir in chopped pecans. Set aside.
Heat oven to 350 F. Place 18 paper liners in cupcake pans.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy - at least 2 minutes.
Mix in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly and scraping the sides of the bowl between each egg.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add half of the flour mixture the butter mixture. Beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the milk. Beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat.
Fill cupcake liners halfway. Don't add too much; you need to leave room for filling. If you have extra batter, make another cupcake or two.
Using a tablespoon, place a scant spoonful of filling in each cup, using the spoon to make a small depression in the batter before scooping the filling into the center. The filling will still show on top, but this will help some of it to sink into the cupcake.
Bake for approximately 24 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Test with a toothpick, making sure to insert on the side of the cupcake, away from the gooey center.
I’m going to cut right to the caramel rose directions.
Use a large piping tip, or a cap from a bottle of water or a milk carton—whatever you can find that’s round and approximately 1 inch across—to cut out the caramel circles.
I found that working with one caramel at a time is easiest. Place it between sheets of parchment and roll out thin. You should be able to cut 4 circles out of it with a reasonable amount of leftover scraps. (Pile them up and roll them out later.)
In the picture below, the pieces of caramel in the background are round. That’s because I put each one in a tortilla press. It made it a little easier to roll out that way but isn’t necessary at all. And I’m still scratching my head about the fact that I put a square caramel in the press (between sheets of parchment) and it flattened the caramel into a perfect circle. WTH?
Cut one circle at a time and pop it out of the cutter. If you let them stack up in there, they’re a real bear to separate. I know this for a fact! This would be a fun activity for kids to do and allow you to go right to the fun part of forming roses. It takes 9 rounds to make a rose.
Set your finished roses on the counter (uncovered) or in a mini-tart pan for a little more support. If the rose flattens, just fluff it back out.
Cut out 1-inch circles. (The rounds in the background still need to be rolled out.)
Roll one circle to make the center. Overlap 3 petals around the center. Overlap 5 petals for the outside layer, pulling edges thin and curling down if desired. Petals can be shaped and enlarged before wrapping or after, whichever is easiest. (If you want to have enough caramel for a few leaves, you can cut some of that stem off and add it to the scraps.)
They’re your roses; make them 7 petals instead of 9 if you want. Play with the shapes of the petals. Make some big ones, some small. Play with your food! If you have any leftover caramel, a few leaves make the cupcake even prettier.
Use your favorite icing. I made a basic buttercream for this batch.
I had so much fun making these, and I’ll bet you will too. The roses would be perfect on individual brownies. Or chocolate cookies. Or . . . well, I’ll leave something to your imagination.
Dump cakes are new to me. Whenever one would pop up on Facebook, I’d just move along because why would anyone want to eat something with the word “dump” in it? Seriously, can you think of a single positive connotation? Besides that, they use a boxed cake mix, which I try to stay away from.
Then I ate a pumpkin dump cake at a club meeting, and was smitten. The flavors, the crunch. (Cue erotic moaning here.)
When I was experimenting with homemade make-ahead cake mixes for my October Food for Thought column (which will be up on October 2) the logical thing to test it on – besides a cake – was a pumpkin dessert. I wheedled the recipe from the lady at club, added pockets of cheesecake to the recipe and used lots of pecans. I also may have topped the warm dessert with a scoop of maple nut ice cream.
And I was, for once, speechless. It was beyond good. My personal preference when it comes to desserts is for something plain. A slice of angel food cake. A brownie. A bowl of ice cream. I have no problem with making complicated recipes – the harder and more involved it is, the more I enjoy the process – but I would rather eat something simple, and this was just so…busy looking.
Honey, let me tell you – looks aren’t everything. The complex flavors will make you weep.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how to make the filling for pumpkin pie, right? You just grab a 15 oz. can of Libby’s solid pack pumpkin and follow instructions. Or you buy the pre-made kind in a can. Or you follow your grandma’s recipe with condensed milk or whipping cream and brandy.
The foundation of this dessert is a batch of pumpkin pie filling. Covered with dollops of cream cheesy goodness. Suffocated with a thick layer of dry cake mix. Drizzled with melted butter. Adorned with pecans. What’s not to love?
If you must use a boxed white cake mix, that’s OK. If you would like to make yours from scratch, here’s a small version of my cake mix. You’ll use about 1/2 of this (my cake mix is a little more generous than the packaged kind). Save the rest in an airtight container for your next dump cake, or check out the October Yummy column for the full cake recipe.
White Cake Mix
3 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1 3/4 cups sugar (I use superfine, but regular is OK)
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Thoroughly whisk together all ingredients. Use half of this recipe for topping a dump cake and store the rest in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
Serves 12 A scoop of ice cream is lovely over this warm dessert.
Pumpkin pie filling for one pie
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup milk
1 package white cake mix, DRY!
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup (or more) chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour (I use Baker's Joy spray) a 9x13 cake pan or casserole dish.
Spread the pumpkin pie filling evenly in the bottom of pan.
Cream the cream cheese, powdered sugar, flour, vanilla, and egg together well.
While beating, slowly add the milk a little at a time. You may not need all the milk - it depends on the size of your egg. I use jumbo eggs and 2 tablespoons was just right. The goal is to have the mixture the texture of thick pudding.
Drop the cream cheese mixture in rounded tablespoons over the pumpkin. Take a knife and pull it through gently. You don't want to mix the pumpkin and cream cheese...you just want to have it evenly distributed. Another option would be to put the cream cheese filling in a zipper bag, cut the tip off, and pipe it all over the pumpkin.
Cover completely with dry cake mix.
Drizzle evenly with melted butter.
Sprinkle with pecans.
Bake for approximately 1 hour. Let it cool on a rack and eat it when it's barely warm.
Drop globs of cream cheese mixture over the surface OR use a zipper storage bag with the tip cut off to squeeze it evenly over the pumpkin.
(Yes, I know. I didn’t pull a knife through the cream cheese before I covered it with cake mix. I learn as I go!)
Drizzle with butter
Ready for the oven
I always get excited about new recipes (I wish I could be that passionate about housework) but this one has really stolen my heart. It is my new go-to Fall “company vittles” dessert, and will probably take the place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
Now that I shared my new addiction with you, may I ask for a favor? Pretty please? I’m one of the top 13 finalists for Blogger Idol, and just finished my first assignment which will go live at noon on Wednesday, October 2nd. Would you please check it out and vote for me? Thank you, Foodie Friends!