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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Brown Butter Maple Icing and Caramelized Walnuts and Pepitos

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Brown Butter Maple Icing and Caramelized Walnuts and Pepitos

It’s Pumpkin Spice time and we have it all wrapped up in a tasty Bundt Cake. Filled with a tunnel of vanilla cream cheese and topped with brown butter icing and caramelized nuts, the cake is spiced with a blend of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. It’s the American quintessential flavor of fall.

Cream cheese filling
8 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Bundt cake
12 Tbsp. softened butter, plus more for the pan
2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
1 can pumpkin purée, 15 ounces
¾ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs

Using a hand held or stand mixer, in a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla bean paste until smooth. Add to a large plastic disposal piping bag, being careful to keep the cream cheese 2-1/2 inches away from the pointed end, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a Bundt pan with butter, then lightly flour and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about

5 minutes scraping down the sides as needed so all is beaten well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Add in about ⅓ of the dry flour mixture, followed by ½ of the wet pumpkin mixture, and repeat ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix until just combined, being careful to not overbeat.

Pour ¾ of the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Tap the pan on the counter several time to release any air bubbles. Snip off 2-1/2” off pointed end of the piping bag. Insert the ending down into the center of the batter and pipe the cream cheese into the batter to make a tunnel in the center. Spoon the remaining batter over the top and smooth to even it out.

Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Caramelized Walnuts and Pepitos
1 cups raw walnut halves
½ cup pepitos
½ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay the walnuts and pepitos out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until just slightly darker in color and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.

Add the sugar into a medium saucepan and place over medium high heat. When the sugar begins to melt, stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted and the color is a medium

amber. Add the nuts and stir quickly to coat all. Pour the nuts out on to the lined sheet tray and, working quickly, spread them out by using two forks to separate the nuts into small cluster. Sprinkle with the salt and cool completely.

Brown Butter Maple Icing
4 Tablespoons butter
⅔ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoons milk

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, watching the butter carefully, and swirling the pan until the butter begins to turn amber in color.

Remove butter from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth. Add the milk, a few drops at a time, and only if the icing needs to be thinned. Spoon the icing over top of the cake and immediately top with the candied walnuts

Country Ham with Jalapeño Raspberry Sauce, Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits & Pickled Grape Tomatoes

Country Ham with Jalapeño Raspberry Sauce, Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits & Pickled Grape Tomatoes

An ideal Kentucky appetizer for Derby Day, or any spring party, this tasty combination will disappear quickly  from your dinner table or buffet. Sweet potato and buttermilk biscuits are filled with country ham, fontina cheese, and spicy sweet raspberry and jalapeño sauce.

The biscuits are best on the day they are baked but you can make the dough ahead of time, cut and freeze, then thaw right before baking.

 

Pickled Grape Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS:
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
½  teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½  teaspoon coriander seeds
6-7 whole allspice berries
2 large bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic sliced thin

INSTRUCTIONS:
One week prior to serving: Wash, dry, and remove any stems from the tomatoes. Using a toothpick, poke a small hole through each tomato, end to end. In a one quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring until all sugar and salt is dissolved. Fill a clean glass container with the tomatoes. Add the peppercorns, coriander, allspice, bay leaves, and garlic to the container. Pour the hot brine over to cover completely, discard any leftover brine. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for 1 week prior to serving. Can be stored refrigerated for up to 1 month.

 

Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits

INGREDIENTS:
12-ounces sweet potato
¾ cup buttermilk, chilled
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½  teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, and cut into small cubes

INSTRUCTIONS:
The day prior, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake until tender, or a fork passes easily through the potatoes, about 45 minutes. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then peel and puree in a food processor. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, measure out one cup for the biscuits.

 

Preheat oven to 450˚ F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the chilled sweet potato and the buttermilk. Place back in the refrigerator to keep cold. In a large wide bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas. Add the sweet potato/buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined and a soft dough forms; try to avoid over mixing. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough carefully into a round shape then flatten the dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut as many biscuits as possible with a floured 1½” metal biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the remaining dough together and cut out the remaining biscuits. Bake 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 30 mini biscuits.

 

Fresh Jalapeño and Raspberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
1 whole jalapeño pepper
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
¼ cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
⅛ teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS:
Cut 6 slits down the length of the jalapeño almost to the bottom; cutting through just the skin and membrane but not completely cutting open the pepper. Be careful when preparing the pepper, the idea is to just cook out the flavor so you don’t want to cut it completely open. In a small saucepan, add the jam, sugar, vinegar, molasses, salt and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the jalapeño. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer; set aside.

 

To assemble:
INGREDIENTS:
15 slices of country ham, sliced paper-thin, at room temperature
30 Sweet potato biscuits
15 slices Italian Fontina cheese, sliced very thin
30 novelty sandwich picks

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat the oven broiler. Cut the biscuits in half and spread on the halves ¼ teaspoon per side with fresh jalapeno & raspberry sauce. Top with ½ piece of country ham, folded or torn to fit, and ½ piece of cheese. Place under the broiler to just melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and top with the other biscuit half and a sandwich pick fitted with a pickled cherry tomato. Makes 30 mini biscuit sandwiches.

Birds’ Nest Lemon Cheesecake

Birds’ Nest Lemon Cheesecake

Greet spring in a cheerful manner at any holiday celebration with these cute birds’ nest lemon cheesecake trifles. Using a no-bake recipe, the lemon cheesecake is a yummy whipped mixture of lemon curd and mascarpone.  The “nest” is made with thinly slice phyllo dough, topped with cinnamon/sugar and the base is shortbread crumbles. If you need to cut some time, you can always use high-quality store-purchased shortbread cookies.

 

Phyllo Dough Nest

INGREDIENTS:
6 sheets of phyllo dough
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet tray. Cut 6 sheets of phyllo dough in half to make 12 shorter sheets. Roll together tightly and very thinly slice into long thin pieces then transfer to a baking sheet carefully separating the layers. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle with butter, then with cinnamon sugar. Bake until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

 

Shortbread Crumbs

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
½ cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 glass serving cups

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8×8” pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes. Fold in flour and vanilla and blend until a soft dough forms. Press into the 8” x 8” pan and bake until light brown, about 40 minutes; remove and cool completely. Crumble then divide equally among the cups and press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the cups.

 

Lemon Cream Cheese Layers

INGREDIENTS:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2½ cups cold heavy cream
1 cup homemade or store-bought lemon curd
Candy bird eggs

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat mascarpone, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the cream. When combined, increase the speed to medium and beat until medium peaks form. Transfer half of mascarpone mixture to another bowl. Add the lemon curd to the remaining half and beat in until combined.

Dividing the mixtures evenly, layer the lemon curd mixture over the shortbread crumbs in each cup followed by the plain mascarpone /cream mixture. Smooth the top, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours and up until 24.

When ready to serve, form a nest in the top of each cup using the shorter pieces of cinnamon phyllo in the center and longer on the outside. Add the candy eggs into the center of the nest and serve immediately.

Orange Cardamom Cookies

Orange Cardamom Cookies

A plate of pretty ornaments, our Orange Cardamom Butter Cookies are decorated with fresh-squeezed orange juice icing and pastel dragées. Full of the taste of the season, these are a favorite on our holiday cookie plates.2 ½ cups, All purpose flour we prefer White Lily flour

INGREDIENTS
1-1/4 tsp of ground cardamom
½ tsp salt
3 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1-1/2 tsp finely grated fresh orange peel
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 extra large egg – room temperature
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 to 1 ½ tsp fresh orange juice

Whisk the flour, cardamom, and salt together. Using an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to blend together. Reduce the mixture to low and work in all the flour slowly.  Separate the dough into two balls, place in a zip top bag and shape each one into a disk. Refrigerate for 24-36 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Working with one disk of dough at a time, remove from the refrigerator and let the dough stand for 15 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 1/8’ thickness and cut out shapes. Gather dough scrapes together into a ball and refrigerate for several minutes until cold. Re-roll and re-cut shapes. Repeat with the other disk of dough.  As you cut them, place the cut cookies in the refrigerator to keep the shapes cold until time to bake. 

Place on a parchment lined baking sheets 3 inches apart and bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the sheet and remove to racks to cool completely.

When the cookies have completely cooled mix the powdered sugar with the orange juice to form a thick glaze. Drizzle on the cookies and decorate with French Dragees. Makes 52 cookies.

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies With Lemon Icing

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies With Lemon Icing

Bright and cheerful, these holiday Strawberry Jam Thumbprint cookies are topped with a tangy lemon icing. Easy to make – simply roll, press, fill, and bake. They make a perfect addition to any cookies plate.

INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

INGREDIENTS
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the egg yolk and combine the mixture until it forms a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the dough soften slightly, then roll level tablespoons into balls and arrange them about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball, being careful not to crack the dough. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam and bake the cookies in batches in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, transfer them to racks, and let them cool completely.

Combine the confections sugar with the lemon juice to make a thick icing. Use a small piping bag to ice the cookie or drizzle with a fork. Makes 36 cookies.

Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon Chips

Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon Chips

No snickering here, just some real cookie love with these Snickerdoodles. A perfect holiday cookie, they will ignite your home with the smell of the holidays. We added some easy-to-make homemade cinnamon chips to kick the flavor up a notch.

To make the cinnamon chips:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200˚F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, shortening, light corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and flatten into a rough square about 1/4 inch or so thick. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely, blot off any excess oil with paper towels, and then cut into small pieces. Makes approximately 2 cups.

To make the cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¾ cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup of Cinnamon Chips

For rolling:
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at high speed until light and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add egg and vanilla, beating until well combined

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in 1 cup cinnamon chips until evenly distributed

Add the remaining granulated sugar to a bowl. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough, and roll into balls. Roll balls in the sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown and puffed up, 14 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pans then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.