Chocolate Pumpkin Pound Cake

Swirls of spiced cake with chocolate glaze
My neighbor’s maple tree is wearing its glorious fall coat. If you walk by at the right moment in late afternoon, the generously leafy canopy appears to glow with golden light; like a sequined Hannah Montana in the spotlight.Meanwhile, I’ve seen crocuses poking up out of lawns, and my gnarly old crabapple is blooming bright pink blossoms. Poor thing – it’s getting on in years and must be easily confused by the unusually spring-like temperature. Unpredictable weather is typical for us here in St. Louis; last year at about this time we were huddling around the fireplace with our winter coats on after an ice storm knocked out our power for a few days.

Despite the freakish weather I still have fall cooking on the brain. Plus, I was inspired by Ivonne over at Cream Puffs in Venice – she’s got a great idea called Magazine Mondays going. Find all those flagged recipes in your food magazine stack and get cooking!

I loved the colors in this cake – it’s from Sunset magazine – I found it at Myrecipes.com.
Since I made this for a treat on Halloween night, I used my extra-dark cocoa powder in the chocolate batter (as in the Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread)- it looks great swirled with the pumpkin-orange cake.

Chocolate Pumpkin Marble Pound Cake
from Sunset Magazine, November 2003

1 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup buttermilk
Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)1. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Scrape half the mixture into another bowl.

2. To make pumpkin batter: Beat pumpkin into half the butter mixture until well blended. In another bowl, stir together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat on low speed or fold in with a flexible spatula just until blended.

3. To make chocolate batter: In another bowl, mix remaining 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cocoa. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk to the other half of the butter mixture (starting and ending with flour mixture), beating after each addition just until blended.

4. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into a buttered and floured 12-cup bundt-cake pan. Drop half the chocolate batter by spoonfuls over (but not entirely covering) the pumpkin batter. Repeat to spoon remaining pumpkin and chocolate batters into pan. Gently run the blade of a butter knife around the center of the pan several times, then draw the knife across the width of the pan in 10 to 12 places to swirl batters.

5. Bake in a 350° regular or 325° convection oven until a wood skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cake cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack, lift off pan, and cool cake completely.

6. Pour warm chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle glaze with peanuts if desired. Let stand until glaze is set, about 2 hours, or chill about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze: In a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler, combine 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon corn syrup. Bring an inch or two of water to a boil in a pan that the bowl can nest in or in bottom of double boiler, then remove from heat. Place chocolate mixture over water and let stand, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 10 minutes.

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Crisp, Crunchy Prosciutto: Better than Bacon

Roast sliced prosciutto for a crispy treat


Two questions for a mom/food blogger/personal chef/recipe writer/household planner having one of those weeks that are making her very tired:

Question: What is the one thing you toss into your cart each and every time you shop at Costco.
A
nswer: One pound packages of sliced prosciutto.

Question: And why is that?
Answer: Because when there’s nothing much in the house to cook, we can always munch on oven-roasted prosciutto. This stuff might be better than bacon-flavored potato chips.

Question: Just one more question – how do you make it?
Answer: Just have a look at the easy recipe below. I’m going to have a little nap now.

Crisp Oven-Roasted Prosciutto

12 slices prosciutto
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Arrange the prosciutto on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven 12-15 minutes (keep you eye on it – it browns quickly) until crisp. Cool.

Crumble over pasta, eggs, mashed potatoes or sandwiches. Or just eat it plain, right out of a bowl.

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Butternut Squash Soup: Rich, Silky (and Dairy-Free)

A comforting bowl for fall


Now is the perfect time of year to make soup – we can almost see breath clouds while walking to school in the morning (it takes a lot of huffing), pumpkins are stacked on front stoops and the maples are showing off their fall colors.

Plus, Thanksgiving is right around the corner – I just placed my order for a pasture-raised turkey. Now I need to get busy planning our menu. Since we don’t have a huge family gathering and the duty to provide everybody’s habitual favorite side dishes, I try different recipes from year to year, just to keep things interesting. I’m craving chiles this year, for some reason, and might roast this Southwestern-inspired turkey.

This soup will be great on our holiday table. Made with my all-time favorite fall ingredient, butternut squash, it’s so smooth and rich-tasting you might think it’s loaded with butter and cream, but no worries! It’s completely dairy-free. The secret to its plush, velvety texture is in the ratio of vegetables to broth, and the addition of a little bit of potato for body.

Butternut Squash Soup: Rich, Silky (and Dairy-Free)

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small non-starchy potato (such as Yukon Gold or Red Bliss), peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

4 - 5 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh herbs and toasted nuts, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and ginger; cook 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the squash, potato, honey, stock and orange juice and zest; season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then adjust heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook until the squash is soft when pierced with a fork.
  3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or with an immersion hand blender until very smooth.
  4. Garnish with fresh chopped herb leaves (such as chives, basil or parsley) and chopped toasted nuts, if you like.
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