Happy Halloween! I hope you all are enjoying lots of pumpkin-anything today! I wasn’t expecting to be able to bake anything this week with hurricane Sandy passing through here and the predicted power outages, but luckily it missed this area! We’ve surprisingly had just a bit of rain and barely any wind. After watching the coverage for the New York City area, we all feel lucky for that.
So to get back on track for baking festive things, I wanted to bake pumpkin bars from a recipe I came across a few days ago. It’s for chocolate chip pumpkin blondies, but I wanted to change it a bit by adding on a layer of chocolate ganache. I never thought I would enjoy the combination of pumpkin and chocolate (as I write this it just seems so silly now) until the other day when I put Nutella on a pumpkin english muffin. It was like, BAM. Why don’t I eat that combination more often? The mixture of the two in baked goods has somewhat of a complex flavor, because for me at least, I taste the chocolate first, and then the spices and the pumpkin linger afterwards. Pumpkin orange is also one of my favorite colors, so the combination of it with dark chocolate ganache just seems very Halloweeny to me.
- 6 tbsp. butter, softened
- 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c. pumpkin
- 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Ganache recipe can be found here.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×8 square dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Stir in the egg, vanilla and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Pour those into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake 15-17 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean after being inserted. Remove from oven and let cool. If you want to stop here, you can just cut and serve them about 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven while they are still warm. If you want to add the ganache, let the bars cool in the pan completely first. Make the ganache while you are waiting. Once the bars are cool, spread the ganache over the top. Store the bars, covered, in the fridge (so the chocolate doesn’t get too melty).
So this is a few weeks late, but I have to mention my lovely birthday cake and updates to my lovely go-to chocolate cake recipe. Earlier this year, I posted about a chocolate cake recipe I found from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, and any time I want chocolate cake this is what I use and trust. So for my birthday, I volunteered to bake my own cake (because I do what I want on my birthday!) and decided chocolate cake was the obvious answer. I browsed some new frosting recipes, let my brain daydream about flavor combinations, and eventually got the idea to do a two-layer chocolate cake, WITH peanut buter cream cheese filling, AND chocolate ganache frosting. Oh yes. I was so excited in that moment that I sketched the whole thing out so I wouldn’t forget such a brilliant combination. Peanut butter frosting is always delicious, and so is cream cheese frosting, and I have absolutely no idea why it took me this long to combine the two. And this is the first time I’ve made chocolate ganache. I knew of it, but I was always intimidated because it just sounded fancy. Well, it looks it, but it’s really, really easy. So yeah, I may start celebrating my half-birthday, and quarter-birthday just so I can have an excuse to eat this again.
Find my chocolate cake recipe here.
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), at room temperature
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (add a little more or less to taste)
- 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Continue to beat until light and fluffy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (I used these)
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a saucepan. I learned that “scalding” is when you heat the cream (or milk and such) and tiny bubbles start to form around the edges (but it’s NOT boiling). Make sure to stir the cream while it heats to prevent scorching. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but make sure to bring to room temperature before using . I made mine the night before I baked the cake, and then took it out to set on the counter about 4 hours before I needed to use it. When researching how to make chocolate ganache, I came across this site which shows three different variations on using ganache. It’s pretty interesting!