Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin gooey butter cakes

If you couldn't guess by now, I really love food and documenting my adventures with it!  The funny thing is this -- even if I didn't have a public outlet for sharing those things, I'd still take more pictures of food than some folks do of their children.  #sadbecauseitstrue

But, sometimes, it's really really fun!  I get a little carried away with the pictures and then go b-a-n-a-n-a-s over the subject of said photography.  Like, carrying a plate of dessert and a hacky sack pumpkin all around my apartment, using various props and lighting in different rooms.  Fiddling with my humble camera's settings and adding more specs to my fantasy someday-I'll-cough-up-the-serious-dough-to-buy-it camera.

Whatever the reasons, I suppose you can say that I'm really proud of my creations in the kitchen.  Especially when they look and taste like this: pumpkin gooey bars!

Note: Watchful florescent pumpkin is not for consumption.

It was like glamour shots, food edition, invaded my apartment the other night.  I couldn't stop! Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you how it all began.

Two Thanksgivings ago, I was given permission to contribute a sweet item to the glorious buffet typical of our family holidays... for the first time ever!  I'm sure you can relate when I say that most families are rather particular about their Thanksgiving spread.  How many times have you heard someone say, "It isn't Thanksgiving unless I have my grandma's rolls/aunt's stuffing/mom's cherry pie/canned cranberry sauce/etc." ?  All of those listed certainly apply to the Kemps :)  I was gently informed [ahem] not to rock the boat too much.  


As I was saying, I was given reigns to make a dessert because my grandma didn't have time to bake her customary pumpkin pies.  I wanted to pay homage to that warm spicy flavor combination but steer clear of pies.  Something a bit easier and maybe with a wider appeal to younger cousins who think pies are gross semi-healthy adult desserts.

No offense, young grasshoppers.  I know adults who aren't crazy about pies

Want to know how you get the attention of those pastry-hatin' pals?  Use the following words: gooey, butter, and cake!  After all, it's worked before.  I wonder if I'm starting to get a reputation... if so, I welcome it.

Now that I've got YOUR attention, let me elaborate.  The bottom layer is somewhere between cake and cookie.  Like a really moist sugar cookie... YUM!  The top layer is velvety smooth pumpkin goodness.  Kinda like pumpkin pie filling, but waaaaaaaaaaay better.  Sweeter!  Those turkey day skeptics literally ate their words.  And so did my recent dinner party guests!

Give me an innocent close-up.  Love it!

Put 'em together and your taste buds are in for a decadent party!  I love different textures within the same food -- your fork glides through the spiced cinnamon topping and snaps once it reaches the yellow cake-y crust.  Get outta my way!

The camera adores you!

I'm not going to lie -- there is no picture of the entire pan after baking because I may have stuck my fork right into it.  Standing over the cake, in my sugar-dusted gym clothes, eating bite after bite of that outstanding pumpkin creation in my dimly-lit kitchen.  Sounds like the beginning of a sad Lifetime movie, huh?  Ha!

Work it, sassy squash!

Since your mouth is totally watering by now (and you're probably surveying your pantry to see if you have the ingredients to make this yummy dessert), I'll give you one last glamour shot.  It's my absolute favorite!!  Just look at those doe pumpkin eyes peering over the plate, as if to say, "You'll be mine!"  Best ever, right?!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes
(adapted from Paula Dean's recipe)
-makes 12-16 squares, depending on your cuts

A few notes: If you missed my previous post about what to do with a boxed chocolate cake mix (make an out-of-this-world chocolate pudding dump cake!), check it out!

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Whipped cream or topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick melted butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin together in a large bowl until smooth.  Add 3 eggs, vanilla, and remaining stick of melted butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.

Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

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