Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Happy Friday! I’m headed up north to Cambridge, MA, to celebrate my sister’s birthday–keep an eye out next week for her cake!

Friday Favorites: Pumpkin EditionHeading up to New England in the fall has me daydreaming about–what else–pumpkin! While I am not one of those people who needs everything I eat this time of year to be bright orange and pumpkin-flavored (still baffled by the pumpkin spice almond milk at Trader Joe’s…), I do enjoy my fair share of the seasonal favorite.

I don’t have a new pumpkin recipe for you today, but I have lots in my archives. Here are some of my favorites 😍Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Make Your Own Pumpkin Purée

Buying canned pumpkin purée is certainly the easiest way to get it into your baked goods, but every once in a while, it’s fun to make your own! This tutorial starts with helping you find the right pumpkin, and then gives you a full-photo step-by-step look into the whole process.Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Pie Spice

By itself, pumpkin doesn’t have a very strong flavor–Pumpkin Pie Spice is actually what we’re all so in love with 😍 It’s all over store shelves this time of year, but I suggest making your own; it’s much more economical than buying those tiny jars, and you can control the flavor. My favorite blend is souped up with cardamom and black pepper. It sounds weird, but don’t knock it ’till you try it!Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Pie

We may be two months away from Thanksgiving, but it’s never too early to get your Pumpkin Pie fix! My recipe is lighter than most, thanks to the addition of whipped egg whites.Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Scones

Start your day with pumpkin spice! These soft-in-the-center, nubbly-at-the-edges Pumpkin Scones are a great weekend breakfast option.Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

As far as weekday breakfasts go, these Pumpkin Oat Muffins can’t be beat! They’re super soft, full of flavor, and an easy grab-and-go option. Did I mention they have chocolate in them?!Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies

I posted a recipe for classic Oatmeal Creme Pies a few weeks ago, but these pumpkin-spiced Little Debbie knock-offs were one of my first posts ever 😮 They’ve got the soft cookies and marshmallow filling you love, and plenty of pumpkin flavor!Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Have you made this cake yet? I know I only posted it last week, but I love it and can’t wait to hear what you think! It’s super flavorful, stays soft for days, and beyond that, it just looks pretty.

Are you into pumpkin? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend.

Friday Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsI planned to post this recipe a year ago. I can’t tell you why it didn’t happen–I had written the recipe and a whole post. All I had to do was take some photos and hit “publish,” but instead I just let the file get buried in the digital depths of my iPad, never to be seen again…

Whole Grain Banana Muffins…until two weeks ago. I was searching for these Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars, but this recipe caught my eye instead. Long story short, I’ve made these Whole Grain Banana Muffins twice since rediscovering them, and let me tell you: they are freaking delicious. I mean, most banana baked goods are–mashed banana just has a way of making things wonderful–but these muffins have a little something extra.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsIt’s not some new product or anything. No, that’s not my style. There are no unusual ingredients in this recipe. Instead, its one little almost-no-effort step that makes these muffins truly spectacular:

Before you do anything else, spread the oats and walnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsYep, that’s it. That one little step is the difference between good muffins and great ones.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsOther than that, this recipe is exactly what you’d expect. Mix together some dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and leaveners) and some wet ingredients (oil, eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and just 2/3 cup light brown sugar). Whisk it all together with exactly ten strokes of the bowl. Add the toasty oats and walnuts and use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold everything together for another 10 strokes. Throw in some chocolate chips if you like, and fold for another five strokes.Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Why do we need to count strokes of the batter? This keeps the gluten from over-developing and making the muffins tough. When the gluten in the flour meets the liquid ingredients, it’s activated, meaning it starts forming the bonds that give baked goods structure and texture. If we stir/fold too much, we’ll end up with tough, chewy muffins, and nobody wants that. For tender muffins, keep your mixing to a maximum of 25 strokes.

Divide the batter amongst about 16 prepared muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then let them cool in the pans for about ten minutes before turning them out and digging in.

These Whole Grain Banana Muffins are much more than the sum of their parts, y’all. They’re soft, tender, not too sweet, and full of nutty whole grain goodness from the whole wheat flour and toasted oats. Oh, and of course there’s all sorts of good flavor from the mashed ripe bananas, toasted walnuts, and chocolate chips! That’s my kind of breakfast treat 💗Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana Muffins
makes about 16 standard muffins

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Toast the oats and walnuts. Place oats and walnuts (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and spread to cover the surface. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Place pan on a rack to cool a bit.

Make the muffin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 30-60 seconds). Whisk in light brown sugar, followed by oil, mashed bananas, and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and whisk 10 strokes. Add oats and nuts (which may still be warm) and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir an additional 10 strokes. Add optional chocolate chips and fold an additional 5 strokes. Batter may have a few small lumps.

Place about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup; they should be about 2/3 full. Place full pan in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes until removing to a rack to cool completely.

Bake any remaining batter, filling any unused muffin cups halfway with water to keep the pan from warping.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you do not have buttermilk, you may make your own. Place 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 1/2 cup mark. Let mixture sit for five minutes, until curdled. Proceed with recipe as written.

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt CakeI have loved baking with berries and stone fruit all summer, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not excited to do some fall baking. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been daydreaming about apples and pears, cranberries and warming spices, and of course, pumpkin. I’ve already gone through five cans of the stuff while testing upcoming recipes! If you love pumpkin, you’ve come to the right place.

Pumpkin Bundt CakeThis first recipe of fall is a great one, if I do say so myself. This Pumpkin Bundt Cake is soft, sweet, and full of that seasonal flavor we all love. It’s made with an entire 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée and a hefty dose of pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin by itself has a very subtle flavor, so quality pumpkin pie spice is imperative for quality baked goods. While there are many great store-bought versions, I prefer to make my own Pumpkin Pie Spice blend. It’s a combination of seven warming spices including all of the ones you’d expect (think cinnamon and nutmeg) and a couple of surprises (think cardamom). It has a depth that I haven’t found in even the highest quality packaged versions. I swear by this particular blend, but feel free to use any Pumpkin Pie Spice you like.

Pumpkin Bundt CakeEnough about spices though. Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a breeze to make. The simple no-mixer-required batter comes together in just a few minutes. In addition to the pumpkin purée and pie spice, it contains oil, light brown and granulated sugars, four eggs, and all the other usual suspects.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeOnce the beautiful orange batter is ready, pour it into a bundt pan that has been heavily greased and floured. While I usually rely on a paste of oil and flour to keep my cakes from sticking, that particular method does not work well with this recipe. Instead, I recommend heavily (and I mean heavily) greasing every nook and cranny of the pan with butter, or even shortening, and giving it a good dusting of flour. Pour the batter into the pan and bake it for forty minutes. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before running a knife along all of the edges and inverting it. There’s nothing quite like the relief that comes when a bundt cake comes out in one piece.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeThe cake itself may be made up to a day in advance. To do this, let the cake cool to room temperature before carefully wrapping it in plastic and letting it sit overnight. The pumpkin spice flavor will actually deepen as the cake sits, making this a very appealing make-ahead dessert. If you don’t have that kind of time though, your cake will still be delicious on the day it’s baked.

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeBefore serving, glaze the cake. I prefer to use a vanilla glaze here, but feel free to add a pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to jazz it up. To make the glaze, whisk together some confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk until thick, but still pourable. Carefully pour it over the top of the cake and then let gravity do its job. It will turn out rustic and beautiful every time 

Pumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakePumpkin Bundt CakeI love this cake so much, you guys. It has a moist crumb and a fairly light texture; it will stay soft for days! And the flavor is everything you want in a pumpkin baked good–there is just enough spice 😊 Like I said, I’m positively in love. 

Pumpkin Bundt CakeHappy fall, y’all 🍂🍁Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
makes one 12 cup-capacity bundt pan

For the pan:
2 tablespoons softened butter or shortening
~1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin purée (I like Libby’s and Trader Joe’s)

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 12 cup-capacity bundt pan heavily with butter or shortening and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in light brown and granulated sugars followed by oil, vanilla, and pumpkin purée. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth out the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon. Tap the full pan on the counter 5-10 times to release air bubbles. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a few spots comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the outer edges of the pan before inverting the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in vanilla and milk. Glaze should be thick, but pourable.

Place the cake (still on the cooling rack) over a sheet of wax paper. Pour glaze over the top. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Today’s post is the third new cookie recipe in as many weeks…except that it’s not new at all. These Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies are made with the gluten-free cookie base of my Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms and the marshmallow filling from my homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies. Put ‘em together, and you’ve got a sandwich cookie that is stupid easy and crazy delicious.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}This cookie recipe is based on the Fluffernutter Sandwich, which is a perfect food as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t get much better than peanut butter and marshmallow fluff! That rich, creamy, sweet and salty combination is one of the greatest lunch treats out there. And make no mistake, it is a treat. While peanut butter (the natural kind, anyway) is pretty good for you, marshmallow fluff definitely isn’t! Good thing this is a dessert blog–this magical combination is much more suited to a cookie than a main course.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies come together quickly and easily. The cookies are my spin on the classic three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe. My version has six ingredients; aside from the usual peanut butter, egg, and brown sugar, this recipe has vanilla for flavor and cornstarch and baking powder to give the cookies a chewy texture. There’s no flour or butter in this dough or in the filling, so this recipe is free of gluten and dairy 😍

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Scoop the dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll it into balls, and flatten slightly. They may crack slightly, but that’s sort of a necessary evil here. This dough doesn’t spread much, so the flattening helps the cookies to bake into a shape that lends itself to sandwiching. 

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}And speaking of sandwiching…once the cookies are baked and cooled, make the filling. Cream together marshmallow fluff and shortening. Beat in some confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla, and hot water until a smooth, sticky filling forms. Load it into a zip-top plastic bag and snip off a corner.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Pipe dime-sized dollops of marshmallow filling onto half of the cookies and top them with the rest of the cookies.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Y’all. Y’ALL. These Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies are SO GOOD. The cookies are chewy and peanut buttery and the filling is marshmallow magic. Together, they are rich, sweet, salty, gluten- and dairy-free, and irresistible!

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}
makes about 2.5 dozen very small sandwich cookies

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/8 teaspoon baking powder

Filling:
4 oz marshmallow fluff (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup shortening,* room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hot water (from the tap is fine)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat peanut butter and light brown sugar until combined. Mix in egg and yolk, followed by vanilla. Beat in cornstarch and baking powder.

Scoop dough in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoon) increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 1.5 inches apart on prepared pans and flatten lightly with your fingertips. Bake 6 minutes, until no longer shiny. Let cool ten minutes on the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, cream the marshmallow fluff and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add in vanilla and hot water and mix on high until the filling is very fluffy.

Assemble sandwich cookies. Load filling into a piping bag or zip-top freezer bag and snip off a small corner. Pipe a dime-sized dollop onto the middle of the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat with all remaining cookies.

Cookies will keep very well covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

You may use an equal volume of softened butter in place of shortening. This will mean that your cookies are no longer dairy-free.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate CookiesI’m a vanilla person, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way I wolfed down three of these cookies yesterday.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate Cookies have been a favorite of mine since childhood. When I was growing up, I was particularly fond of the version available in the bakery department of our local supermarket, but I haven’t had one of theirs in at least fifteen years, so I have no idea if they were actually any good (they probably weren’t). Regardless, I have many happy memories of snacking on them during our weekly grocery trips.

Double Chocolate CookiesIt’s tricky to make a good Double Chocolate Cookie. Add too much cocoa powder to the dough and you’ll end up with dry, crumbly results; don’t add enough and your cookies won’t have any flavor. Ugh. Since I am simply unwilling to resign myself to a life of subpar Double Chocolate Cookies, I take a note from Alice Medrich, arguably the queen of baking with chocolate.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate CookiesWhen she makes her Cocoa Brownies, Ms. Medrich begins by melting butter with cocoa powder and sugar. This technique is called blooming–it basically means infusing the butter with chocolate flavor. I’ve mentioned blooming before–it’s what makes my Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies so delicious. It does the same thing in these Double Chocolate Cookies, giving the dough a rich chocolate flavor from the very start. This simple process is a bit unusual in cookie-baking, but it yields unmatched depth of flavor.

Double Chocolate CookiesThe rest of the dough-making process is fairly straightforward, and since the butter is melted, it doesn’t require a mixer 🙌🏻🙌🏻 Whisk eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt into the chocolaty butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips before covering and chilling the dough for at least a couple of hours. Don’t skip the chill unless you want sad, lacy cookies that run all over your baking sheets!

Double Chocolate CookiesAfter the dough has firmed up a bit, scoop it in two tablespoon increments and bake for just shy of ten minutes. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before moving them to a rack. Make sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature before baking the rest of the cookies.

Double Chocolate CookiesOnce all the dough has been baked, grab a cookie or two (or three!) and prepare to fall in love with a freaking baked good. These Double Chocolate Cookies have super dense, soft centers and crisp-chewy edges. Thanks to the blooming technique, they’re basically like eating a fudgy brownie in cookie form 😍😍😍 It goes without saying that I am totally obsessed. Coming from a vanilla person, that means a lot.Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen medium cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine butter, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Let melt together, stirring frequently, until no pieces of butter remain. Mixture will be grainy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let cool 5-10 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk eggs into liquid ingredients one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom at the 5 minute mark. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheets to return to room temperature before baking the remaining dough.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Double Chocolate Cookies