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Posts Tagged ‘Brown Butter’

Thanksgiving is just a week away, but fear not, I’m here to help with your holiday dessert decisions.  This Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake is the answer– trust me.  You already know that we’re a cake-crazy family (just take a look under the recipe section if you need proof), but this is one of our all-time favorites.  I’ve already made it several times this year– most recently for my husband’s birthday a week ago.  It’s beautiful, tastes as good as it looks, and screams ‘celebration’.  Why fall back on the old standards of pumpkin or apple pie, when you can end your Thanksgiving meal with this stunner?

The key component in this cake is brown butter.  I’m of the opinion that it makes everything better.  Brown butter has a complex, nutty, almost caramel-like flavor.  Here, you’ll find it in both the cake and the frosting.  It adds those wonderful, layered flavors that set this cake apart from a typical pumpkin dessert.  And then there’s the nuts.  I’ve topped this cake with a mountain of pecans, pepitas, and ginger– all enveloped by melted brown sugar.  Sublime.  If you don’t want  as many nuts on your cake (what’s wrong with you?), you can half the amounts and sprinkle them in a circle design on top.  I like the grandness of  the big pile on top, plus they’re an addictive snack that you’ll munch on as you assemble this beauty.

I’ve always made this cake with a homemade pumpkin puree.  Aside from the freshness of doing it this way, it’s rewarding to do something with all of those pumpkins that have been decorating the house.  If you have too many things on your plate (yes, I realize that’s a poor pun), feel free to use canned pumpkin puree.  As always, try to use organic and make sure it contains only pureed pumpkin.  Make this cake, and you’ll impress your guests– I promise.

The Recipe: Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

For the Puree

1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded  (large enough to yield 1 1/2 cups of puree)

For the Cake

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; plus more for pans

9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; plus more for pans

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup buttermilk  (Note: to make your own add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1/3 cup milk and let stand for 10 minutes)

For the Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups pecans halves

1 cup roasted and salted pepitas (raw and unsalted will work, too — just toast them a bit more with the pecans)

4 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

For the Frosting

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

To make the Pumpkin Puree:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position racks in the center of oven.  Place pumpkin in a baking dish covered with lid or aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Let cool.  Scoop pumpkin flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth.  You will need 1 1/2 cups of puree for the cake.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by buttering them liberally, lining with parchment paper, buttering once again, and flouring the pans.  Make sure to tap out any excess flour.

To make the Cake: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.  In a large bowl, whisk 1  1/2 cups of the pumpkin puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until blended well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined.  Gently whisk in the brown butter until fully incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until the a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove parchment paper, and cool completely.

Make the Topping: Melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet.  Add the pecans and cook until they brown slightly, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar, pepitas, and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the ginger.  Remove from heat and let cool in skillet.

To make the Frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pout into a small bowl and let stand until all of the brown solids settle to the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer bowl to freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes.  Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving behind the brown solid bits.  Discard the brown bits.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1-2 more minutes.

To assemble the Cake: Place one layer of cake on a cake plate.  Spread 1/2 cup of frosting on it.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup (scant) of the nut mixture (rough chop this small amount, so it stays in the cake better) over the frosting and top with another layer of cake.  Frost the top and sides of cake and place remaining nut mixture on the top.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature.  Will keep well for a few days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2010

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Laurie

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Last week I told you I’d have another fabulous recipe for you to use up any left-over winter squash you have from this dish.  Here it is, and it’s a remarkable Squash Ravioli, which also happens to be one of my favorite meals.  I’ve always felt that homemade pasta is the perfect comfort food– and pairing it with squash and browned butter with sage makes for a sublime Autumn dinner.

Browned butter and sage sauce is so simple to make, yet the incredible flavor will really stay with you.  I crave this sauce for weeks after we make this dish– you will too.  Seriously, it’s that good.  It perfectly compliments the sweetness of the squash, the creamy ricotta cheese, and the hint of freshly-grated nutmeg– all of which make up the filling.  The walnuts add texture to counter the pillow-soft ravioli.  And topping almost anything with Parmesan cheese makes it a little bit better.  Serve the ravioli with the crispy sage leaves (if you can keep yourself from eating them before dinner).

Now I know making homemade pasta may not be on your agenda.  Here’s the thing, though– fresh pasta really is that much better than the dried varieties you see at the market.  There’s no comparison.  And as I’ve said before, if you make it a family project you’ll enjoy the process, rather than thinking of it as just preparation.  As for the equipment, while it’s certainly easier to use a food processor and pasta roller, all you really need are strong arms, a sturdy wooden spoon, and a rolling pin.  Hey, it’s exercise, right?  Give it a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how satisfying it is to make your own pasta.  And even more satisfying when you get to fill it with amazing ingredients like this.

The Recipe:  Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter and Sage

The Pasta Dough:

(Makes 1 pound of dough)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large whole eggs

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 egg (reserved for ravioli wash)

The Squash Filling:

1 1/2 cups squash puree

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

Browned Butter and Sage Sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter

6 sage leaves

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

To make the pasta dough:  Mix 2 eggs and olive oil into a measuring cup.  Add 3 tablespoons water (or however much needed to reach 7 fluid ounces).  Put the flour into a food processor fitted with a regular blade and pulse a couple of times to aerate (there will not be enough dough to successfully use the dough blade).  Start running the machine and pour the egg mixture down the feed tube, carefully getting every drop in there.  A dough ball should form quickly.  Do not process for more that 40 seconds total.  Turn machine off and turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand for  a half minute, or until it’s smooth.  Form it into a ball and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rest at room temperature for at least a half hour.   Store in the refrigerator for a day, or freeze for a month or more.  Defrost in the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature before rolling.

To bake the squash: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place a quartered, seeded squash on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Cover with foil and bake until soft and tender, 35-45 minutes.  Let cool.  Scoop out flesh into food processor.  Add a bit of water if necessary and puree until smooth.  Cool.

To make the filling:  Add the squash, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to a bowl.  Mix and set aside.  There may be some leftover filling.  Refrigerate and enjoy by the spoonfuls the next day.

To form the ravioli:  Quarter the dough ball.  Use a pasta machine or roll each section by hand.  Making sure to flour your work surface well.  The goal is to get the dough very thin and long.  Once you achieve this, straighten up the sides, if necessary and cover.  Repeat with another quarter of the dough.  You’ll want to get two matching sections.  Make the ravioli however big you like.  Using a pastry brush, apply an egg wash (beaten egg) along the edges of each ravioli.  Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each section and top with the other section of dough.  Press the dough together along the egg wash– this will seal the filling inside.  Use a pasta cutter to cut the ravioli into sections.  Or use a knife and press down with fork tines to seal.

To make the browned butter and sage sauce:  In a medium-sized sauce pan, place a stick of butter and the sage leaves.  Begin to brown the butter until it’s fragrant and has a nice caramel color.  Stir frequently.  Add 2/3 cup of pasta water and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the ravioli in a large pot of salted, boiling water.  You will want to work in batches.  Place three ravioli (depending upon the size of your pot) into the water.  Cook for about three minutes.  The dough will shrink and tightly enclose the mound of filling when done.   Remove from water and repeat with remaining ravioli.  Toss the cooked ravioli into the brown butter and sage sauce immediately, so they don’t stick together.  When serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the toasted walnuts.  Enjoy!

Source:  Pasta and Sauce adapted from Lidia Bastiancich’s Lidia’s Family Table

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great day.

Laurie

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