Category Archives: Baking and/or Pastry

Gingerbread and Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Hey everyone, hopefully you’ve all had a great holiday weekend, or if you don’t celebrate, just a great weekend in general.

This dessert is something that I’ve made for the past few years, whether it is for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. I’ve made several variations, as it is a very versatile dish that has endless flavor combination possibilities. It’s fairly easy to make, but looks like it took some time. I always have made the cake layers, whipped cream, and anything else from scratch. If you want to make it even easier, use a cake mix, or a store bought pound cake or any other favorite loaf cake.

For example, last year, I made a Tiramisu inspired trifle. Instead of lady fingers, I made a Genoise cake (Italian Sponge cake) as the base dipped in espresso, and layered a mix of whipped cream and sweetened mascarpone between the layers, topped with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Another time, I made a spice cake as the base layers, and layered homemade raspberry curd and whipped cream between each cake layer.

This year I decided to make a gingerbread cake, with a pumpkin mousse and stabilized whipped cream in between each later. Stabilized whipped cream is cream whipped with a little gelatin in order to help it set up. I did this because I was making it the night before. By stabilizing it, it can last a day or two longer than if you just used regular whipped cream.

I adapted the recipes for the gingerbread and pumpkin mousse using the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle recipe on my Epicurious phone app, which they sourced from Gourmet Magazine. I substituted ingredients mainly in the gingerbread because I either had overlooked them, or ran out.

What You’ll Need:

Gingerbread:

 

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 2 tsps ground ginger (I used closer to 2.5 or 3 for more flavor)

– ½ tsp cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)

– ½ tsp salt

– 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

– 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown because that’s what I had, recipe called for dark)

– 1 large egg

– ½ cup maple syrup (The recipe called for molasses, but this is the closest thing I had available)

– ¼ cup whole milk and ½ cup of sour cream (the recipe called for ¾ cup buttermilk, but I used milk and sour cream to recreate the tang. I didn’t have any buttermilk available and forgot to buy it)

– ½ cup of hot water (not boiling)

Pumpkin Mousse:

– 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin

– ¼ cup cold water

– 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

– ½ cup packed brown sugar

– ½ tsp cinnamon (I used slightly more)

– ½ tsp grated nutmeg

– ½ tsp ground ginger

– 1/8 tsp salt

– 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

– ½ tsp pure vanilla extract (I used slightly more)

Stabilized Whipped Cream:

– ½ envelope unflavored gelatin

– 1/8 cup cold water

– 1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream

– 3 Tbsp granulated sugar

– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

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The How To:

Note: You can make the gingerbread the day before and keep unsliced and covered. Otherwise, make it several hours ahead of time if making the same day and allow to cool completely.

Gingerbread (Do ahead):

1: Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, with rack in the middle

2: Butter / grease a 13 x 9 baking pan. Line with foil or parchment paper, and grease the liner

3: In a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until they fully incorporate, becoming light and fluffy in texture. This will take a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure all ingredients are mixed evenly

4: Whisk together flour, baking soda, dry spices, and salt in a separate bowl

5: To the butter/sugar mixture, beat in the egg, milk, and sour cream until blended

6: Slowly add the flour mixture in small batches with the mixer on low (otherwise you’ll be wearing the flour). Keep adding until fully incorporated and smooth, but do not over-mix

7: To the batter, mix in the hot water and beat for another minute

8: Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool completely for a few hours.

Pumpkin Mousse:

1: Place the cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly across the water. Let set for a minute or two

2: Turn on the burner to medium heat, bring gelatin water to a simmer until it is dissolved completely

3: In a bowl, combine the pumpkin, spices, salt, and vanilla flavoring and add the liquid gelatin. Whisk until fully mixed and combined

4: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, preferably chilled, or a large bowl using a hand mixer or whisk, add the whipping cream and beat until it firms up and forms soft to medium peaks (Be careful to avoid overwhipping, or you’ll have lumpy cream/butter)

Note: Peaks refer to the whipped cream’s ability to hold it’s shape. Soft peaks will hold some shape, but will generally be loose and pliable. Medium peaks are slightly stiffer. Stiff peaks means that the whipped cream will stand up on end without moving or flopping back down…anything past stiff peaks = BUTTER.

5: In 3 batches, fold, not stir, this whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated. Do not overmix or mixture may deflate a bit. If not using right away, cover and place in the fridge until ready to use

Stabilized Whipped Cream:

1: Place the cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle half envelope of gelatin across. Let sit a minute or two. As before, turn on to medium and bring to a simmer until dissolved completely. Let sit until it begins to cool a bit, but is still liquid

2: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, preferably chilled, or a large bowl using a hand mixer or whisk, add the whipping cream. Beat until it reaches soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar and vanilla, and beat until it stiffens up to medium sized peaks. If not using right away, cover and place in the fridge until ready to assemble

Assemble the Trifle:

1: Cube the gingerbread into 1 inch cubes.

2: In a trifle bowl, or a medium sized glass bowl, or whatever you have, layer the bottom with cake pieces in a single layer, covering completely

3: On top of the cake layer, place about half of the pumpkin mousse on top and cover completely, smoothing and evening the layer as you go

4: On top of the mousse, add half of the whipped cream and do the same, covering the mousse and smoothing as you go.

5: Repeat the process starting with the cake, then the mousse, and then ending with the final layer of whipped cream. You can top with crystallized ginger, dried cranberries, etc, or serve as-is.

Try it out. It’s really a simple dessert to make. Enjoy!

– Anthony

If you can’t see the picture slideshow, Click Below to see the individual pictures, and in a larger format.

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Warm pumpkin pudding cake with vanilla ice cream

Made this cake at the last minute while making dinner. I underbaked it slightly to have a molten/pudding like texture. Add some ice cream on top and it’s an awesome dessert, especially for the (somewhat) cold Florida weather.

I posted the recipe below. I got lucky because I did this by memory from another cake, and didn’t use the recipe when I actually made it. Below are the ingredients that I used.

 

What You’ll Need:

– 1 can pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie mix)

– 4 eggs

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup, or 8 Tbsp), room temperature

– 1 cup sour cream

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

– 1/8 cup of vegetable or canola oil

– 2 Tsp cinnamon (more if you want a strong flavor)

– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add another 1/4  to 1/2 cup if batter is too thin)

– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

– Pinch of salt

The How-To (No step-by-step pics, as this was done from memory):

Note: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, grease a round 9-inch baking dish, or a cake pan.

 

1: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, place both the butter and sugars. Beat together on medium until it is light and creamy, probably a few minutes.

2: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the 4 eggs. Mix until incorporated.

3: To the egg mixture, add the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Mix briefly.

4: Add pumpkin puree and sour cream and mix again. Mix in the baking powder, and add the flour in 1/2 cup batches until it is fully added, only mixing briefly to incorporate. Don’t mix too much, as the cake may be tough.

5: After batter is combined, place into greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Check the cake at this point. If the center is still loose and shakes quite a bit, continue baking for another 10-15 minutes. You don’t want to bake this until it’s completely brown, dry, and solid. I underbaked mine just to the point where the center looked moist, but did not move anymore.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream on top.

Note: I hope this works out. I put this together from memory and didn’t have a written recipe in front of me (a baking/pastry faux pas I know, unless you’re an accomplished baker, which I am not, lol). Like I said, I lucked out that it worked out. It could’ve been a wet mess…a cake fail, or rather a Cake Wreck. You may benefit from using a cake mix and adding the pumpkin to it instead, lol. Best of luck.

If the recipe doesn’t work out, comment back, and my apologies in advance if that happens. I will use more precise recipes for future baking endeavors.

– Anthony

Edit: I had it again the day after. I just microwaved it for 30 seconds and added the ice cream on top. Still tasted great.

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Say Cheese(cake): Pumpkin Cheesecake

Okay, so all these headings themselves are a big ball of cheese. Sue me, lol.

Who out there has eaten WAAAAY too much already? Lol. Count me in that crowd.

I love pumpkin anything. As I raved about in my “Wabbit Season!…Duck Season!…Wabbit Season!…Pumpkin Season” post, I definitely enjoy eating various foods made with pumpkin, whether savory or sweet. The first pumpkin dish I made this month was pumpkin cheesecake. Creamy, rich, and a sign of the season.

I didn’t make this dish for Thanksgiving, but I did make it for a cultural diversity potluck at work this past Monday. I got some positive response from coworkers, so I’m guessing it turned out well. It was almost another Cooking Fail due to some small mistakes made here and there (i.e. not buying graham crackers for the crust, and not putting the scant amount of flour into the cheesecake batter).

You’ll see some smaller, individual-sized cheesecakes in the pictures next to the large one. Those were made for testing purposes, and to make sure I had some left at home. All were made with the same crust and filling. This yields a semi-thick cheesecake, but not really the texture of a New York cheesecake, which is think and very rich. This is thicker than pumpkin pie, but thinner than a stiffer NY cheesecake.

And yes, finally, this one does have a concrete recipe. It’s probably why I don’t always do so well with baking/pastry/dessert stuff. I’m a non-measurer, so it takes a lot of discipline to follow instructions. Haha.

 Ingredient List:

 Filling:

– 3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese (room temperature)

– 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

– 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk (room temperature)

– 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– ½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (depending on how much cinnamon you like)

– ¼ tsp ground allspice

– freshly grated nutmeg (just a few short grates, not a lot), or 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

 Crust (Graham Cracker):

I didn’t make this one, because I forgot the crackers, but if you’re a traditionalist…

– 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs

– 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar

– ½ tsp ground cinnamon

– small pinch of salt

– 1 stick of melted butter (I prefer unsalted if you add the salt to the crust)

 Alternate Crust (Shortbread):

I made this last minute because I didn’t have the ingredients to make a graham cracker crust, and I like shortbread crusts as well.

– 1 stick of butter (room temperature)

– ¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar

– 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

– 1 large egg (room temp, beaten)

– Zest of 1 small lemon

 The Steps:

 (Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit)

 Crust (Graham cracker instructions): This is the one I did not make this time

 1: Break up graham crackers (or use pre-crushed crumbs) and measure out the 1 ¾ cups needed. Place in a bowl

2: Add cinnamon, sugar, pinch of salt, and butter

3: Combine until the mixture looks like wet sand

4: Press into a springform pan evenly across the bottom, and 1 inch or so up the sides

5: Place into oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes (it varies, check so that it does not dry out or overbake)

6: Take crust out of the oven, and let cool before adding filling

 

 

Crust (Shortbread instructions): I made this instead because I didn’t have graham crackers

 

1: Place room temperature butter in a bowl.

2: Add the lemon zest, beaten egg, sugar, and flour

3: Combine the ingredients until it resembles wet, sandy dough

4: Press the crust evenly into a springform pan and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan

5: Prick the crust all over with a fork so that it will not bubble as much

6: Bake in oven until it just starts to brown (varies by oven, but check at about 10-15 minutes)

7: When it starts to brown, take the crust out of the oven and let cool before adding filling

 

Cheesecake filling:

1: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if using a hand mixer, a large metal or glass bowl), open all 3 packages of room temperature cream cheese. To the cheese, add the sugar, then beat. Start on low to combine, then turn up the speed to medium and mix until the cream cheese and sugar have become fluffed up, probably 3-4 minutes, or when you feel it is there.

2: To this mixture, add the vanilla, eggs and egg yolk, and dry spices. Mix slightly until combined, then add in pumpkin mixture and flour. Mix until smooth and combined, probably another minute or two.

 

Note: Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that all of the cream cheese is evenly mixed in.

3: Pour mixture into baked crust and smooth out using a spatula.

4: Bake for one hour at 350 degrees until the center has set, but still slightly jiggles when you move it. It shouldn’t be moving freely, but just a little. If it’s moving a bit, let it bake for a few minutes more, then check again.

5: After the cheesecake is done, take out and let cool for a bit, maybe an hour, then let chill covered in the fridge overnight if possible. Let it cool before trying to remove from the springform pan, otherwise you may have more difficulty. (I only got a picture of the smaller ones, but the big one turned out fine as well)

 

Note: Some people choose to do a water bath. I didn’t on this one and it didn’t crack, however you can if you’d like. To do so, wrap the bottom of the springform in a couple layers of foil (to avoid leakage), place in a deep baking dish, and surround the pan with boiling water, an inch of two up the side of the pan.

Alright folks, enjoy. I know Thanksgiving has passed, but try this out for yourself for any other occasion. It doesn’t even have to be a holiday! Just for eating purposes, haha.

– Anthony

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Share the wealth…

From time to time,  I will be posting recipes or ideas that I like that I’ve found on other blogs or from other resources (TV, magazines, etc)  in order to share the wealth with you all.

For example, one that sounded simple, yet amazing, was a recipe for Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I saw the recipe on Macheesmo, and he adapted the recipe from The Recipe Girl’s recipe.

Click the picture or link below to see the recipe on Macheesmo.

Click HERE to see the recipe.

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