Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin chocolate chip cake

I recently stumbled upon a new-to-me food magazine.  I ooed.  I gasped.  I salivated.  And I read the whole darn thing from cover to cover in one sitting.  It was simply magical!

Except I can't remember which magazine it was, exactly.

Before you scoff and think, "Some magazine it must've been, Katy.  You don't even remember the name!" let me explain.

Matt and I went to Barnes & Noble to kill some time before a movie; it's one of our favorite places to visit/shop.  Once inside the store, we went our separate ways.  He typically begins in either the historical or science fiction sections.  I, on the other hand, don't pretend to be any kind of bookworm and proudly head to the other side of the store.  First stop is the Starbucks counter for hot chocolate and then to the magazine racks.

One of my favorite activities is to embark upon what I like to call a "magazine buffet."  I scour the hundreds of glossy covers, pulling no less than 10 different publications, and find a table and chair at which to park myself and dive into the pages.  Pages with lots of bright and colorful pictures, mind you.

In one of those magazines, I read a fantastic article about canned versus fresh pumpkin.  The author made it his (or her) mission to discover if freshly roasted and pureed pumpkin tasted better than canned pumpkin.  To make a long story short, it wasn't, especially in light of all of the extra effort.  Whew.

Also, the cook discovered a little trick to improve upon the taste of the canned pumpkin.  By cooking it in a saucepan over low heat for a few minutes, he/she was able to eliminate the slightly metallic taste that often accompanies canned pumpkin.

Total brilliance!

Another convenient outcome of cooking pumpkin is that some of the moisture is eliminated, which is helpful when baking with it.  Especially when you use double the amount you initially planned to.

Hey, I love pumpkin!  And I really love this pumpkin cake.

So light and fluffy and, may I add, totally gorgeous?  I don't think I'll ever get over how pretty pumpkin baked goods are.

As much as I love to look at pretty/shiny things (see aforementioned magazine discussion), there's gotta be some serious flavor behind the facade like this cake.  Rich pumpkin flavor -- and it's so much more pronounced, thanks to the cooking, methinks! -- with a hint of sweetness and smattering of spices, then studded with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.

A perfect anytime treat.  For breakfast.  For dessert.  For mid-day sustenance to fuel a mid-day magazine marathon.  I may not remember the name of the magazine, but I certainly won't forget these pumpkin squares anytime soon!

One year ago: Fall quinoa salad with apple cider dressing
Two years ago: Pumpkin gingersnaps
Three years ago: Beef & butternut squash stew

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake
(with some changes from Martha Stewart's recipe)
-makes 16 two-inch-square bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperatur
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook pumpkin, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly 1 cup, roughly 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer pumpkin to a bowl to cool slightly.

Line bottom and sides of a 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg white and vanilla until combined.  Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled).  Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.  Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 16 squares.

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