Margaux says  . . .

I want to make EVERYTHING in the November Martha Stewart Living issue.  Yes, I love Martha Stewart.  The magazine is beautiful and smart, and has tons of good recipes in it (most of the time).  I realize that it’s not cool to like Martha Stewart, but I don’t really care!  It’s the only magazine I get, and I’m proud of it. November’s issue was the best one in months…every page has delicious looking goodies that I can’t wait to make!  This is the first of many things I’ll be trying out from it.

I absolutely love pumpkin anything, and make lot’s of pumpkin treats all through the fall.  The goat cheese frosting is what stood out to me in this recipe, plus the quince compote sounded really interesting, as I’ve never tried quince before!  You could do the cake without the compote, and it is very tasty.  But the compote really makes the cake, I think…it adds a little extra sweetness, and is a nice light balance with the heaviness of the cake and frosting.   The frosting isn’t super sweet, which I love, but for you sweet tooths out there, I would add a little more powdered sugar.  The batter is very thick-not a typical cake batter.  And it took mine much longer to bake than 35 minutes-more like 45.  But the oven I was using wasn’t completely accurate, so make sure you check it at 35 first!

I made this for my Aunt Annie’s 70th birthday party, and we were at my mom’s house down in central Illinois, so I had to “rough it” while baking.  I only had a hand mixer, and the lighting in her kitchen is pretty dim.  She hates cooking (although her kitchen is beautiful!), so she doesn’t have all the luxuries I’m used to.  However, it was lucky that I was there because she has 8″ cake pans, and I don’t!  So it worked out perfectly.

I am definitely going to make this particular cake recipe a regular for fall!  I love the addition of fresh ginger.  I usually make a pumpkin cake at least once every fall season, and the one I’ve been using isn’t nearly as good!  It would also be a good recipe to use for brunch muffins…plain, no frosting or topping.


Pumpkin Layer Cake
from Martha Stewart Living November 2010 issue

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups solid packed pumpkin (from one 14.5 oz. can)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with circles of parchment, and brush with butter. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Which together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt.
2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, and beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Divide batter between pans.
3. Bake cakes until golden brown, pulling away from sides of pans, and until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine took about 10-12 minutes longer than that!).  Let cool in pans set on wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cakes on to racks. Let cool.
4. evenly spread half the goat cheese frosting on top of 1 cake. Top with the second cake, and frost top with the remaining frosting. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Goat Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups.

1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat cheeses until combined. Gradually add sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Quince-Ginger Compote

Overly ripe quinces may not retain their shape as the simmer, so it’s best to use ones that have just ripened.

3 cups off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (from one 2-inch piece)
3 lbs just ripened quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Bring wine, water, sugar, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add quinces. (Add more water if needed to cover fruit.) reduce heat, and simmer gently until quinces are tender, 25 to 45 minutes, depending on ripeness of fruit.
2. Transfer quinces to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Bring liquid in saucepan to a simmer, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. (This part took me about 15-20 minutes…you really need to cook it down quite a bit to get the right consistency. Remove and discard ginger. Stir in lemon juice. Pour syrup over quinces. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate if desired.

Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake

October 29, 2010

I’m totally in love with the cookbook Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Every page is filled with gorgeous photos of delicious, rich looking cakes.  This recipe is just that…gorgeous, rich, delicious and heavenly.  It’s a perfect dessert for an autumn dinner party, or a new tradition for the holidays.

Ms. Beranbaum created this cake for Fine Cooking magazine, despite her fears that the spices you usually add with pumpkin recipes would over power the cream cheese flavor.  But she used turbinado sugar instead of regular, which has mild overtones of molasses, instead of the spices, and it works extremely well.  The crust is so delicious also…I almost made a traditional graham cracker crust so that I wouldn’t have to buy gingersnaps and pecans for the recipe, and I am SO glad I changed my mind at the last minute.  It is a perfect complement to the pumpkin, and so good that I may use it in other cheesecake recipes as well.  I also almost didn’t make the caramel glaze.  I ruined the first batch (make sure you keep a close eye on it while it’s cooking!!), and contemplated nixing it all together, but decided to try again, and I am very happy with that decision as well.  It really finishes the cake.  Plus, you can use the extra leftovers for ice cream topping!  🙂

Plan ahead!!!  This must be made one day ahead of time.  (Another reason it’s perfect for the holidays!)

Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake

from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Coat one 9×2 1/2-3 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set in a slightly larger silicone pan or wrap with a double layer (I did a triple layer) or heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage. Then set in a 12×2 inch round cake pan or roasting pan to serve as a water bath. Set oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350.

Gingersnap Crust

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup gingersnap crumbs, lightly packed
1 tbsp sugar
2 pinches salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Toast pecans by spreading the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and baking for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Place the gingersnap crumbs in a food processor. Add the pecans, sugar and salt and process until fine crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse ten times just until incorporated. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, begin by pressing the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and partway up the sides. To keep the crumbs from sticking to your fingers, it helps to place a piece of plastic wrap over the crumbs and to press them through the wrap. With a 6-inch round cake pan or a flat-bottomed straight-sided measuring cup, smooth the crumbs over bottom and at least 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Be sure to press the bottom thoroughly so that the crumbs are evenly distributed.

Pumpkin filling

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 lb cream cheese, softened and cut into several pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks (2 tbsp), at room temperature

In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin and sugar over medium heat and bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the mixture into a large food processor and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open.

With the motor of the food processor running, add the cold cream. Add the cream cheese in several pieces and process for 30 seconds, or until smoothly incorporated, scraping down the sides 2 or 3 times. Add the eggs and yolks and process for about 5 seconds, or just until incorporated. Using the silicone spatula, scrape the filling into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula. Set the pan in the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes, turning the pan halfway around in the oven after the first 25 minutes. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour.

Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover with a large bowl or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To unmold, use a small propane torch to heat the outside of the pan or wipe the sides of the pan with a dish towel run under hot water and wrung out.

Caramel Piping Glaze
(makes a full 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream, heated
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla

Have ready a 1-cup heatproof glass measure, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water until all the sugar is moistened. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow the mixture to boil undisturbed until the mixture turns a deep amber (360 degrees F/180 degrees C or a few degrees lower because its temperature will continue to rise). Remove it from the heat and as soon as it reaches temperature, slowly and carefully pour the hot cream (I added a pinch of salt to the hot cream before adding to the caramel)  into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture gently, scraping the thicker part that settles on the bottom.

Return the pan to very low heat, continuing to stir gently for 1 minute, until the mixture is uniform in color and the caramel is fully dissolved. Remove it from the heat and gently stir in the butter until incorporated. The mixture will be a little streaky but becomes uniform in color once cooled and stirred.

Pour the caramel into the prepared glass measure and allow it to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla and allow the caramel to cool until no longer warm to the touch, stirring gently three to four times.

The glaze keeps covered for up to 3 days at room temperature and for at least three months refrigerated. To reheat: If the caramel is in a heatproof glass container at room temperature, microwave it on high for 1 minute, stirring twice. Alternatively, place the container in a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until warm, about 7 minutes.

For a decorative lacing effect, you can pour the caramel glaze from the glass measure, but for the greatest precision, use a pastry bag fitted with a small decorating tip.