Every year, we have our traditional array of desserts at Thanksgiving. An assortment of pies ranging from apple to pumpkin, a cranberry apple bread pudding and a large bowl of Chocolate Oreo Cookie Trifle. Every year, I try and bring a new twist to one of our menu items. This year, we needed a new dessert and I think I have found it...Pumpkin Crunch Cake!
A few months ago, I started following Chef Dennis Littley on Google+. As some of you know, I teach social media marketing and many times tend to engage with people within the marketing industry. I am always leary about pushing out recipes to social media marketers, which is kind of weird, they do eat! I had a few food blogger within my Google+ circles but I will say, interaction was at a minimum. Chef Dennis invited me to a few of his Chef Hangouts, where you can interact with chefs during an on-line cooking demonstration. The timing to a few of them was difficult, but one day he invited me to a hang-out to discuss Google+. I figured that would be great...food and social media. I have been using Google+ since it started in July 2011 and thought I knew most aspects of the platform.
Taking the class with Chef Dennis was amazing. He came at Google+ in the direction of a foodie vs a social media marketer. It was a wonderful class learning things that could enhance my food blog vs my social media knowledge. Since the class, I have had a great time connecting with food bloggers and chefs.
Recently, Chef Dennis started posting about his Pumpkin Crunch Cake. With Kate (Jeff's daughter) being the Queen of Birthday Cakes, I sent her the recipe and said we need to make this cake. As life got in the way, I wasn't able to make the cake until the night before Thanksgiving. Of course, I was supposed to have 4 cake pans for this 4 layer cake and I had 4 cake pans, just not all the same size. I decided I would make (2) two layer cakes. It worked out perfectly since we were having a small group for Thanksgiving and my daughter, Danielle, had a Pre-Thanksgiving party to attend. I thought this would be perfect as I could get reviews from Danielle's party.
The cake was interesting to make as your create a crunch layer on the bottom of each pan that becomes a caramel crust to the cake. Put that between cream cheese frosting and you will think you died and went to heaven. The best part of making this cake was the reaction of those that ate it. I must share:
Comments from Danielle: (I can't do justice to these comments, but they were funny)
"Oh my God, Danielle, that cake your mom made is amazing" and "This is good cake!"
Comments from our house:
"This is amazing" , "I don't even like pumpkin cake and I'll have another slice!", "Better than Carrot Cake" and lastly, I cut a piece for my mother and she said, "Oh, please cut that piece in half, I won't eat all of that." Two minutes later, she said, "I'll take that other piece."
Me: I could have sat eating small slices and devoured the entire cake because I would have said I was only eating slivers!
This cake is sweet, but it is balanced perfectly with the frosting being more creamy (less sugar). The cake is a cross between a carrot style cake and a coffee cake, the sweetness of a crunchy topping and the moistness of a vegetable based cake.
As we begin to round out our holiday season, I will be making this for our annual Christmas Party as well as our Christmas Eve dinner. The first party is so I can introduce more of my friends to this incredible Pumpkin Crunch Cake, the second is a request. My Thanksgiving guests liked the cake so much, they put in a request for Christmas Eve.
Is there a reason why you shouldn't make this cake?
Ingredients for Pumpkin Crunch Cake:
3 cups of walnuts, finely chopped
3 cups of vanilla wafers (about 75 cookies)
3 cups of brown sugar
1-1/2 cups of butter, melted
Pumpkin Crunch Cake
1-1/4 cups of white sugar
10 tablespoons of softened butter
1-16 oz can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2-1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
2-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz of cream cheese, softened
8 oz of mascarpone (or cream cheese)*
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla
1. In a food processor, pulse cookies to a fine crumb, then Pulse
walnuts to a fine chop. Add the brown sugar and mix well. Add in the
melted butter and blend together.
2. Divide mixture into 4 coated cake pans (one very full cup per pan),
pressing into bottom and spreading it evenly into the cake pans.
Reserve about 2 cups of the mixture which will be baked to use on the
sides of the cake.
3. Set pans aside.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In your mixer, beat sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until
light and fluffy, scrapping down the bowl frequently .
3. Add in pumpkin and all the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs.
Mix just until blended.
4. Add in the eggs, one at a time just until blended.
5. Divide batter equally into your 4 prepared cake pans, make it as
even as possible in the pan.
6. Place remaining crunch mixture in another cake pan or pie dish and
allow to bake for the same amount of time as the cakes.It will melt together
and look like a brittle.
7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center
comes out clean.
If you use 2 racks to bake on in the oven, at the halfway mark rotate the pans .
8. Allow pans to cool about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire
racks and allow to completely cool.
9. Break up the extra crunch mix to very small bits to use as a
final decoration for the cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Whip the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter till very smooth and creamy,
about 2-3 minutes.
2. Slowly add in the confectioner's sugar while mixer is on low.
3. Add in vanilla and mix well. Set aside.
Assemble your Pumpkin Crunch Cake
1. After your cake is completely cooled, begin frosting the layers
and putting the cake together.
2. Place cake side down with the crunch topping faceup.
3. Frost layers first and then sides.
4. Place crunch topping mixture on top and sides.
If your cake sticks too the bottom of the pan, place it on a burner of
your stove for about 15 seconds, the heat will help release the cake from the pan.
This process works for all cakes. Just be careful and judge how hot and evenly
your stove top heats the pan. After heating place a plate on top of the pan,
and invert quickly. Tap the pan with the heal of a knife to help release the cake.
Written by Tricia White