For a seasonal dessert, we’re eating layers of homemade gingerbread filled with pumpkin spice whipped cream. The dessert was garnished with a fresh piece of pepita brittle.
T: this was quite the tower of gingerbread amanda.
A: i was hoping for something a bit more… eh.. how can i put it?… refined? i dunno, i guess i just think it looks kind of sloppy.
T: looks pretty stellar to me… what could you have done to make it look more refined?
A: it would have probably looked much better if i had initially started with four layers. as it was, i started with two really thick layers and all the whipped cream just smooshed on out when i tried to do the stacking! oops! in my field (working at a residential treatment facilty) we have to use “crisis communications” to prevent things from escalating. if i could translate crisis communication into the food world, that would be the best way to describe what i had to do to save this here dessert from being a miserable failure.
T: your job trains you so much better for life than mine… when something goes wrong at my job I press undo. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve wanted to press undo on stupid crap i did… but there was no undo button
A: silly! the crisis communication is no subsitute for “undo”. i could certainly use that from time to time.
T: i’ve seen you in crisis-handling mode many times in the kitchen… i guess that is part of the gig, eh?
A: yup. because inevitably something’s gonna go wrong, ya know?
T: oh yes I do. I know far too well… oh my. I could rant for an hour about programming for the internet explorer, but i’ll save it for another time, another blog.
A: thank god! if you didn’t save it, i was going to have to blatantly change the subject! anyway, fortunately for this dessert, it might have looked sloppy, but it was definately tasty!
T: it was quite tasty. It was also quite funny when we went to take our first bite… as we pressed down on the top with our forks, the layers slid out from the tower like wet bars of soap. Let’s just say that the tower didn’t last long. I’m sure kids would love toppling the thing… I did.
A: and you’re merely a big kid! it was definately not structurally sound. but that’s how we learn, right?
T: yes. Amanda, you are not allowed to build a house… or a dog house… i would suggest sticking to food.
A: aaaaw, come on T! you wouldn’t live in a house i built on my own? you don’t trust me?
T: if you built a cute little gingerbread house I’d sure love to eat it! but, no, please don’t construct anything that might cause bodily harm to people or animals.
A: dude! i could totally built a live-in-able house. you just wait and see. one day i’m gonna build a dog house, and the dog is gonna be damn happy (and safe!).
T: and that dog is going to be made of marshmellows.
A: uh, t. i’m not building a gingerbread house! i’m going to build a real house, from real wood… and stuff.
T: ok Mandy. I support you in whatever you do… yeah.. some day you’ll build a real house.
A: boy, you better watch out or you’re gonna get slapped! first you call me mandy, then you use condescending typing…
T: I’m shaking.
A: hmph. well why don’t you go on and shake out a rating while you’re at it!
T: ok, I give the gingerbread a 4.5/5. I give the pumpkin seed brittle a 4.1/5. I give the presentation a 4.6/5. I give the structural stability a 0.2/5. Overall I give it a 4.3/5. It was good but it wasn’t one of those desserts where I’m like “oh my god this is so good mmmmmm.” You know those kinds of desserts.
A: yeah, i feel you. it wasn’t quite there for me either. i really like the combination of gingerbread and pumpkin whipped cream, but for some reason, it just wan’t a knock out. I give the dessert a 3.9/5. For some weird reason i just feel the need to eat gingerbread this time of year.
T: did you grow up eating gingerbread at this time of year? that could explain it…
A: uh, not really. i ate a lot of gingersnap cookies throughout the year, but my mom never made gingerbread. it’s a pretty recent phenomenon. i guess i just kept purchasing gingerbread from different bakeries and it was always SO dry, it made me want to make my own.
T: as I look back i don’t think i ever at much ginger bread. It’s good, though. I’m glad to be eating it nowadays. We never mentioned the pumpkin seed brittle. Got anything to say about that?
A: i dug it. i’m not too big into candy, really, so i can either take it or leave it. i just thought it would be a fun garnish for the dish.
T: it was a gorgeous garnish. I’m not much of a candy eater either, unless you count chocolate which is in a league of its own. This was a fun brittle, though, as far as brittles go. That’s about all I can say about it.
A: hmmm… well what can you say about mochies!
T: do we have any mochies?
T: cursed teasing woman.
1 cup heavy whipping cream, well chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
In a small bowl, mix together the pureed pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Set aside. Pour heavy whipping cream, pinch'o salt, and sugar into a large mixing bowl. (If you are lucky enough to have one of those wonderful new age appliances that will do things like whip cream for you, don't worry about the next step and just go ahead to the whipping part.) Place the mixing bowl into the freezer and chill the cream/sugar mixture for 2 minutes. The colder the cream, the easier it whips, and if you're old school like me, you've only a whisk and no fancy gadgets to help you out. Whisk the cream vigorously until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the pumpkin mixture. Either use the whipped cream immediately or chill in the refrigerator until need. Enjoy!
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then lightly spray with cooking spray. Add sugar and water into a medium sized saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat to high and allow the mixture to boil for several minutes, until it turns amber. DO NOT STIR THE MIXTURE WHILE IT'S BOILING. Once the sugar looks amber, stir in the pepitas, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the candy out onto the sheet pan. Using a rubber spatula, try to spread out the brittle into as thin a layer as possible. Once the candy hardens there's no going back, so be quick! Allow the candy to sit for 15-20 minutes then, using your hands, break the brittle into to pieces. Great for garnishing desserts or eating plain. Enjoy!
2/3 cup Guinness extra stout
2/3 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger(put through a garlic press)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring guinness and molassas to a boil over high heat. Once a boil is reached, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Set the mixture aside to cool for about 30 minutes (or until room temperature). While waiting for the guinness/molassas to cool, grease and two round 9" cake pans or 1 13"x9" rectangular cake pan. Line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper so the top of the cake doesn't stick. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt then whisk the dry ingredients together. Once the guinness molassas has cooled, in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until thoroughly combined. Then whisk in the oil. Once the oil is blended in, whisk in the molassas mixture and the minced ginger. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients a little at a time until both mixtures are blended into a one homogeneous batter. Try not to over stir the batter (this will result in a tougher cake). Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (i would check at 22 minutes or shortly after your house really begins to smell like gingerbread. one of mine was done at about 21 minutes and the other-with slightly more batter in the pan- was done at 25 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan on a baking rake for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, gently go around the edges to make sure they aren't stuck to the side of the pan, then invert the pans over the baking racks and remove the cakes from the pans. Gently peel off the parchment paper and allow the cake to cool for another 45 minutes or so before frosting or building a gingerbread skyscraper. While this gingerbread makes a great dressed up dessert, it's fantastic on it's own as well. Enjoy!