Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Candy Pumpkins and a Winning Pumpkin Cake Recipe


Are you ready for a little pumpkin fun?

I certainly am...and from the looks of things out my window...fall is right around the corner.  

My son was watching the hummingbirds visit the feeder yesterday... as he watched, a small gust of wind whirled through the backyard, and a cascade of light yellow leaves began to fall to the ground from our maple tree... He exclaimed "What is happening??  Why is our tree losing leaves?? It's still summertime....!"  I reminded him September is here... and fall is coming... 

He wasn't thrilled.  The summer comes in goes in a hurry these days.

But guess what??  

I am thrilled!  I'm bringing out the welcome-wagon for my very favorite season... it's quite literally on our doorstep. {Disclaimer: I may say the same about every season, I tend to be equally excited about the new possibilities of each season}

Right now, today, it is officially pumpkin season... at least that what it says on my calendar.

I'm here for the pumpkins and the cozy firepit nights, I'm here for the leaves, and the caramel apples... the hayrides, and the bright blue crisp autumn skies...I'm here for all of the gorgeous fall days that are right around the corner.

One of the cutest pumpkins of the season... will be the ones I make!

How can that be you might think??

Today, I'm sharing the how-to for these super-cute candy pumpkins.

These little edible cuties, are a surefire way to add a little fall flair to you desserts... thinking ahead to Thanksgiving...these little pumpkins make darling toppers for cakes and pies.  

Speaking of cake... I am including the recipe here for one of the BEST fall desserts I've ever tasted, my two-time, Best-of-Show winning: pumpkin cake.  It's truly delicious, and the perfect make-ahead dessert... 

The secret about this cake... Yes, there is a secret: It tastes better after a day resting in the refrigerator!!  What an amazing trick for this cake, to create magic all on its own...while you are freed up to do other things.  I love a cake that's not too fussy, don't you??




Below is the handy How-To Guide for making candy pumpkins:

What you'll need:

Marzipan: (Almond paste) Yes, you can make your own using blanched peeled almonds and powdered sugar--simply grinding the almonds up in a food processor and adding confectioner's sugar... there are plenty of easy recipes to follow for homemade marzipan, or you can use store-bought.  I typically buy mine, because I like the smooth consistency and I usually only need a small amount for my projects...I buy mine in the baking aisle of my grocery store.  Either way, homemade or store-bought-- you'll need marzipan.

Toothpicks or a small paring knife

Food gel: (I chose orange and green) Pumpkins can be any color, so feel free to make magical pumpkins in any color.  Sometimes I use brown or tan food gel to create the stems...just depends on the project.

Waxed paper or parchment paper: I like working on the waxed paper for easy cleanup.

Zip-top bag: Makes coloring the marzipan super easy and less messy.

Small air-tight container: Use to store finished pumpkins and/or any unused marzipan.

CANDY PUMPKIN HOW-TO GUIDE with Photos:

Gather supplies.

Decide how many pumpkins you plan to make.  Decide on the size or sizes. 

Slice the amount of marzipan you plan to use (I recommend 1-2 inch slice)

Place marzipan in a zip-top bag, add 1-2 drops of desired food gel inside the bag with the marzipan. It helps to go slow with the food gel, you can always add more for a deeper color... but if you add too much at first, sometimes you'll need to begin again to get the right color.

Seal the bag, and begin working the color into the marzipan until the color is uniform. This is a lot like working with modeling clay or Play-Doh...and can be super-fun for kids to help with this chore.

Once you have your color, repeat the process for other desired colors: (stems, leaves, gourds or whatever else you plan to create)  Also, leaving the marzipan uncolored is a beautiful choice and creates sweet cream-colored pumpkins...



Using a small amount, roll into a ball (similar to making a meatball) 



Using a toothpick or paring knife, create indents into the pumpkin.  Be creative, you can make tall skinny pumpkins, short, fat pumpkins, the sky is the limit.





For stems, roll a small amount of contrasting colored marzipan into a rope, cut off desired length for a pumpkin stem.  Using a toothpick, create a small pilot hole where you would like to place the stem.  The pilot hole helps the stem to stay in place.  Add the stem and using the toothpick, gently push the marzipan in place.



Store any unused marzipan in air-tight plastic wrap and inside an air-tight container.

TIPS:

These cute pumpkins can be made ahead- simply store the created pumpkins in an air-tight container at room temperature. (Up to 1 week)

The marzipan pumpkins can get dried out over time, so place the pumpkins on your dessert display the same day as you plan to serve.  

If the marzipan feels too sticky, use a small amount of cornstarch to help.  I like to dust the pumpkin shapes with the smallest amount if it is too sticky when I am rolling them into balls.

For great definition and beautiful looking pumpkins, keep the paring knife clean or use new toothpicks for each pumpkin.  If the tools become gummy with marzipan, the pumpkins look less defined.


Wasn't that so much fun??  Now what to do with all this glorious pumpkin beauty...Hmmm... If only there was a cake or little delectable cupcakes nearby!!  Oh wait... there is!!

If you are looking for something delicious and oh, so good to put those cute pumpkins on...look no further... Here's my recipe... she's a true winner in every sense of the word.  Elegant, flavorful, and easy, did I mention that??  Some of the best recipes are the easiest... it's just a beautiful thing when it works out like that.  Please enjoy.  


P.S. --If you're new here... be sure to sign up for emails {that way you will never miss a new recipe} and be sure to LIKE and FOLLOW Blue Ribbon Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram... I love that you are visiting the blog today and I hope you'll visit again soon.  If you have any questions or comments... I love hearing from you.


Xo,

Karri





AWARD-WINNING PUMPKIN CAKE RECIPE:

Pumpkin Spice Cake
Blue Ribbon Kitchen
First Place and Best of Show 2013 and 2014: Karri Perry

4 large eggs room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin I use Libby's, not generic. Why? Pumpkin and pumpkin puree is mostly water.  When using an unfamiliar brand or trying to render your own pumpkin, the water content will vary, if the pumpkin is too watery, the cake will not set or require a longer bake time-which typically creates a poor finished product-(dry).  Therefore, using a trusted brand, usually garners reliable results every time.

***
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine first four ingredients into a bowl.  Blend well using mixer.  Combine flour and the remaining dry ingredients together.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, making sure all the flour is incorporated.  If using nuts, stir in by hand, do not over mix batter.

Pour batter evenly into three (3) greased, parchment-lined 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.  Bake at 350 for 24 minutes or until set, a toothpick will come out with no batter. 

 For cupcakes: makes 36 in cupcake liners, bake 17-19 minutes or until done--tops will look dry and a toothpick will come out clean.  Tip: Use an ice cream scoop for even distribution of batter for cupcakes.

Cool cakes out of pans on a wire rack until completely cooled. Frost cake and put it into the refrigerator until ready to serve.  This cake is even better after resting, chilled for 12-24 hours.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce cream) cheese brick, softened
1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3-5 cups of confectioners’ sugar
Blend butter and cream cheese 2-3 minutes on medium until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla.  Slowly mix in confectioners’ sugar about a ½ cup at a time, until you reach a frosting-like spreadable consistency. 

Tips: It may be helpful to frost between the layers and apply a crumb coat, refrigerate for 20 minutes to help the cake firm up, and then continue frosting.  Refrigerate cake when finished.  The cake flavor is best if allowed to chill overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator about one hour before serving.






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