It’s hard to believe another Christmas has come and gone. All that planning and shopping and cooking and baking and eating! Oh my gosh, the eating! I start my diet again next week so I have to hide all the chocolates we got for Christmas and eat all the fattening food in the fridge this week (oink oink). So much cheese! I got one of those Oka cheese boxes with a bunch of different types for $30. Very tasty, but bad for the figure.
Jay’s sister hosted Christmas dinner here in Calgary (and it was really, really good!) and I offered to bring dessert. I may like to eat a lot, but I’m really not a baker so almost everything I bake is a new experience. I’ve traditionally made cheesecakes covered in chocolate and nuts and caramel for family events, but this year I thought I’d do something a bit different, keeping in theme with a dense wintery kind of dessert. I found this recipe in the November 2012 edition of Food Network Magazine. It was a fair amount of work, but still quite easy to make.
I made the cakes on Christmas eve day so that I’d have less work to do on Christmas day. Other than having to buy cardamom because I didn’t have any, the cakes were pretty straight forward.
I let the cakes cool completely on racks for a few hours, then I wrapped them well in cellophane so I could finish the recipe the next day.
I’m lazy and risk averse when it comes to baking, so I simply toasted the nuts in a frying pan. I think it’s easier to watch them, stir them, and make sure they don’t burn rather than toasting them in the oven.
Boiling down the sugar and water was kind of neat – I thought it made a neat photo. But, make sure you choose a deep pot. This is really important. Once the cream and corn syrup were added, the mixture bubbled up on its own every once in a while, and whenever I stirred it, the addition of air made it bubble and puff up to the top of the pot. Be very careful!
I couldn’t find bittersweet chocolate at the grocery store so I used semi-sweet chocolate for both the filling and the glaze. 1 ounce of chocolate = 1 square. When chopping the chocolate, chop it all at the same time. Chop the 8 ounces for the filling and put it into a bowl, then chop the 6 ounces for the glaze and put it into a separate bowl. I also recommend doing the same with the butter so you don’t have to get your hands all greasy twice.
Before you spread the filling onto the cake layers, you may want to separate the filling into 2 or 3 bowls if you’re unsure you’ll be able to evenly divide it from one bowl into 3 relatively even portions.
It was a messy, sloppy delight! A lot of the filling kind of squished out the edges and onto the serving plate. I think it may work better to plop much of the filling near the centre of the cake and let the weight of the cake spread it out. I tried to evenly spread the filling to the edge and my cake didn’t turn out as nice looking as the one in the magazine. You want some chocolate oozing out to make it look super delicious, but maybe not as much as I had.
The glaze is a lot of butter and chocolate. It hardens to a nice coating.
After the big turkey dinner, everyone was full. That being said, this is quite a heavy cake. I cut the cake into quarters and each quarter into 3 pieces, then I cut those 3 pieces in half! We got 12 pieces out of half of the cake. There was still plenty of leftover cake for the Boxing Day lunch I hosted at our house. Even the next day the leftovers were still delicious!
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Pecan Filling
Active 1 hour 30 minutes
Total 4 hours
For the cake:
Unsalted butter, for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15 – ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
For the glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons honey
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two 9-inch-round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Combine the pumpkin, sugar, orange zest and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated. With the mixer running, add the vegetable oil in a steady stream. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans; lightly tap the pans on the counter to distribute the batter.
Transfer the pans to the oven and bake until the cakes begin pulling away from the pans and the centers spring back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then unmold onto the rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer and cook, without stirring, until deep amber, about 8 minutes. Carefully whisk in the cream and cook, whisking, until smooth. Add the corn syrup and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the heat; whisk in the butter, chocolate, vanilla and salt until smooth. Let cool completely, then fold in the pecans. Cover and refrigerate until firm but spreadable, about 1 hour.
Assemble the cake: Cut each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to make 4 layers. Put 1 layer on a platter; spread one-third of the pecan filling on top. Layer the remaining cakes and filling on top, ending with cake. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Make the glaze: Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, butter and honey in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 1 minute; uncover and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then spread on the cake, letting the excess drip down the sides. Refrigerate until the glaze sets, about 10 minutes.