Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Valentine: Pumpkin Tiramisu

Oh hey!  Guess what?!  Today is Valentine's Day!!

Noooooo.... it wasn't in November when WalMart started to throw boxes of pre-made iced sugar cookies on the shelves. As appetizing as that sounds...

Or in December when Target threw open the doors and filled every last crevice with red and white Saint Valen-tiny memorabilia.

OR January, when our local grocery store started to convince me that if I didn't pre-order my red roses RIGHT NOW, I'd be sorry, grow an awkward and unexplainable fungus on my foot, and die a lonely old maid.

Nope.  It's today.

So my husband... my dear, sweet, beautiful husband... took me to IHOP for lunch and then (yes, it actually gets better) we went to Sam's Club... to buy a printer.

I know. 

You don't have to say it.

Romance is alive and well, in the metro.

So in return, I smoothed down the hair on my legs and made Pumpkin Tiramasu.

What you'll need:
1 1/2 Cups whipping cream
1 Package of gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
1 Cup pumpkin puree
2 Packages ladyfingers or a loaf of pound cake, cut into "finger" sized strips
1/4+ Cup coffee liqueur (I used Sheridans, which is just about the best coffee chocolate flavored liqueur out there)
Crushed toffee bars (Buy four.  Eat one.  Use two for the tiramisu.  Stash the other for that day.)

Dissolve gelatin in about 1/4 Cup whipping cream. Pour remainder whipping cream and gelatin-ized cream together, and beat with sugar, until peaks form. Add mascarpone cheese and pumpkin, and beat just until filling is smooth.

Line the bottom of a springform pan (my springform is on the small side, and it still works wonderfully) with 1 package ladyfingers, overlapping and crowding to fit. Sprinkle with a generous few tablespoons of liqueur. But don't be so generous, that there's none left for the juice glass that you may or may not have filled, for yourself.  Spread half of the filling over the ladyfingers.

Repeat with the second package ladyfingers, remaining coffee liqueur, and remaining filling. Smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic, then foil. Chill overnight or at least, 6-8 hours.

It's beautiful, it's lovely, and Saint Valentine would be proud.

Proud, no doubt, that we've run his name and his message, through the chocolate and candy heart mud.

But anyway...

I pray you know love today... from a spouse, a partner, a dear friend, or a family member.  I hope your dog or your cat can take a few minutes out of their busy, busy lives to show you how much you mean to them.  But most of all, I hope you love yourself today... despite the fungus.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gettin' Fancy: Pumpkin Cake with Honey Creamcheese Frosting

Well, it's time to pull out my purdy dress. 

My cousin is getting married today. 

What is it about weddings, that turn regular, down-to-earth women, into little girls who "sqeeeee" at the mention of ballgown dresses and tiny after dinner mints? Made out of cream cheese. (sigh)

Or that turn naturally reserved, happily-married women, into blushing bride-wanna-be-agains?

What is it about weddings, that turn sweatpant wearing, mascara-on-a-good-day, hair in a ponytail type women, into giddy "mercy me, what am I gonna wear," sort of a women?

I mean for the love of all that's holy.  The wedding is in Arkansas.  If I get shoes on this morning, it'll be a step in the right direction.

(I didn't mean that.  I have friends... I have family... in Arkansas.  Not one of them has ever been shoeless in my presence.)

Anyway, to celebrate this festive and fancy occasion, I have Pumpkin Cake with a Honey Cream Cheese Frosting. (There are lots of folks on the Internet who do this cake... but I'll attribute it to Martha Stewart, since "she is to weddings," what "AARON RODGERS IS TO GREENBAY!!!!!!!"  Sorry.  Had to.)

What you'll need:

1/2 Cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (still trying to work my way through it)
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
Dash or two of nutmeg
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 1/2 Cups pumpkin puree
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda

1/4 Cup butter
8 Oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 Cup honey
1 Teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Make Honey Frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until smooth. Spread top of cooled cake.  I didn't, and it slid all around like it was trying to escape.

Okay.  So it's no wedding cake.
Not even close. 
But the honey does add a flavor that I don't often pair with pumpkin and the cake is so moist, it was hard to tell when it was done... so make sure you cook it thoroughly... and enjoy! 
Now, I need to go find something to wear, that has deep pockets...there are cream cheese mints to be stashed!