Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake.


The other day, I discovered Pumpkin Pudding. It looks like this:


Being a lover of all things pumpkin, I was shocked to learn this was not a new item. It has existed for at least a year, possibly more. After recovering from the kick I gave to myself for not discovering this last year, I quickly snatched up 3 boxes, knowing I’d figure out something to do with them when I got home. And figure out something, I did.

I started out with a spice cake. I used this recipe (minus the caramel icing) which made two lovely 8″ layers.

hello, layers.

hello, layers.

While the layers lay cooling, I made the pudding and let that chill. Once the layers were cool and the pudding was chill, I put them together,  like so:

pudding in the middle.

pudding in the middle.

I put that in the fridge for a bit, and started contemplating what sort of icing to use that would enhance the overall eating experience. I had a little bit of the pudding left in the bowl, so I thought I’d try and make something that used up the rest of the pudding (there was no way I was letting THAT go to waste). So, I quickly wrote a Pumpkin Pudding Buttercream recipe. It went like this:

Pumpkin Pudding Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter, softened

3 TBSP pumpkin pudding (already made with milk)

4 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 TBSP milk

What you’ll do:

In a large bowl, mix the butter and the pudding until there are no lumps. Add the confectioners sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk, and mix until smooth.


After I made the icing, I iced the cake, but I still felt it needed something. So I got a bag of slivered almonds, and covered the sides of the cake with them, like this:

a side of almonds.

a side of almonds.

After that, we ate it, and said a little thanks to the gods of autumn for making it the season with all the best flavors.

Baking Baklava: the only thing to fear is fear itself.

I’m pretty sure the first time I’d ever heard of Baklava was from the Disney movie Aladdin. At least, that’s the first time I remember being conscious of what it actually was. I’d certainly never eaten it before that point, and honestly, didn’t even eat it until quite some time after. And when I did finally eat it for the first time in all it’s delicious nutty syrup-y glory, I never in a million years thought, “One day I’m gonna make this myself!”

My how times change.

Even after two years of pastry school, I still hadn’t made it though, so when I was presented with the challenge of making it, I admit, I was nervous. I’m supposed to be good at this – what if it’s a giant fail? I couldn’t bear to face that potential outcome, so, I decided to make it and only reveal the finished product if it turned out decent.

I started with the nut mixture – almonds, walnuts and pistachios. So far, so good.

I then began the layering process – Phyllo dough sheets, nuts, more sheets, more nuts…

…until no nuts remained.

what lies beneath…

Next, I had to cut it. I was nervous about this part – one false move could end the whole thing.

a cut above.

Next up, baking. While it baked, I made the syrup. I also sampled the syrup – repeatedly. After I was finally 100% sure that it was, in fact, unbelievably delicious, I removed the baked baklava from the oven, poured the syrup carefully over top, and garnished it with finely chopped pistachios.


Success! I waited until it cooled down, and ate a piece just make sure it passed the smell, sight AND taste test. This morning, again to be 100% sure, I had to have another piece. Now, it’s up to the people to decide its fate tomorrow, when I unleash my baklava out into the world (and by world, I mean my co-workers). 🙂

come on, praline.

In technical terms, a praline is a caramelized nut, most often a hazelnut or almond; in not-so-technical terms, the word “praline” has come to be associated with not only caramelized nuts, but nougat, ground praline paste, and even chocolates made from praline paste or with a praline in/on top of them. So, you can see how one could go a little “nuts” trying to keep all this straight. har har.

"real" pralines

Anyway, these are simple to make – basically you’re just caramelizing sugar with nuts in it. You can coat them with more sugar, or with cocoa powder…I guess with other stuff too, although that would make it non-traditional and possibly non-tasty. But experimentation is the heart of baking, so do what cha like.

Humpty sure would.

Ok so the point is (not Humpty’s nose, either),  that I made traditional pralines, using almonds, and coated them with powdered sugar. As delightful a snack they were on their own, encased in a Belgian truffle, they became down right irresistible. And that’s a fact, ma’am.

simply irresistible.

So come on lets, make your own praline. Toora, loora, toora loorye aye….