browned butter extravaganza

It has been a very rough week – one of the roughest ever – personally, at work and just in general. It seems to be on going on and on, this, and it’s hard to buck up and just deal sometimes. But it’s Christmas party time with the ladies (and now our new dude) of Public Health and I am SO looking forward to not having to listen to people or the phone or work my ass off overtime like I’ve been doing. My contribution this year is dessert. Since someone whispered in my ear “pumpkin shortage” around Thanksgiving time, I purchased more cans than I actually needed of the stuff. So when this absolutely delicious cake crossed my radar, I had to use up some of that pumpkin for it. I’m talking about browned butter in the cake batter AND in the frosting, people. BROWNED BUTTER. I need it in my life.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake
recipe from Evil Chef Mom

You Need:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup butter (12 Tablespoons)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350. Butter and flour two round 9 inch cake pans (or just spray ’em down with Baker’s Joy like lazy old me). Melt the butter in a light bottomed pan over medium. Cook, swirling carefully occasionally, until the butter is foamy and browned and has that wonderful nutty aroma. Scrape into a bowl and let it sit until cool, but don’t let it get solid. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In your mixer, mix the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Add in the browned butter (beating on low) until it’s incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake until a tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling racks. Let cool completely.

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the walnuts and cook until they’ve browned lightly. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let cool in the skillet.

Frosting: (this here is the AWESOME part)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 ounces cream cheese (I used 4 ounces cream cheese and 4 ounces mascarpone)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Heat the butter in a pan over medium, swirling occasionally until foamy and browned. Scrape this into a bowl and set it in the fridge to firm up. With your mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese (and/or mascarpone), and brown sugar on high speed until it is light in color and the sugar has dissolved. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and continue beating until fluffy.

Put a cake layer on a plate. Spread some frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second cake layer. Frost the top of the cake (it says you can also frost the sides) but I didn’t have enough to do that. That may or may not be due to repeated tastings of the frosting. Hey nobody saw me, they can’t prove a damn thing. Arrange the remaining nut topping in a ring around the edge of the top frosted cake. Serve at room temp.

Happy Christmas from my ladies at Public Health: from left to right, Helen, our Lactation Consultant and maternal health guru (this little lady has EIGHT kids, people, EIGHT), Patti, RN and fellow Bob Dylan fan, Susan, our now retiring Emergency Response Coordinator, Patrice, Afton’s RN and all around cool, cool lady, Teresa, my Kemmerer counterpart (TERESA! i need her in my life), our sweet boss lady, Connie, et moi.

Baking Music: the entire soundtrack to Funny Girl. It’s a super mood lifter, I swear.



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7 responses to “browned butter extravaganza

  1. jewelboxer

    you are the only person on the planet who can cook with pumpkin and not make me cringe. seriously, it’s a gift.

    browned butter makes me think of mushrooms. probably because i need to eat some mushrooms in browned butter.

    totally un-food-related: helen, the lady with eight kids who is a lactation consultant…tell me she had a few of those kids at home, dude.

  2. rebekah

    pumpkin for me lately is like an obsession i embarked on awhile back with parsnips when i discovered i really and truly liked them. i’m trying not to OD myself on these foodstuffs…

    helen most certainly did have a few of her babies at home and naturally. she was a doula before she worked with us and teaches birthing classes using relaxation techniques, etc. in place of drugs for pain. she’s a huge proponent of breastfeeding and knows just about EVERYTHING about babies and mom’s health. i wish you guys could get together – she’s a deep well of information. I just could never believe this little lady (she’s under 5 feet tall and itty bitty) pushed out 8 kids all on her own. like wow, man. she impresses me deeply.

    • jewelboxer

      stories like that make me so happy. mostly because i’ve run into a slew of horror stories lately (why do people feel the need to tell me these awful tales the second they find out i’m birthing at home?), and teeny tiny helens are encouraging. especially to women like me who are 7-8 inches taller and significantly hippier (pelvic circumference, not lifestyle-wise;).

    • jewelboxer

      just to take this thread even further from the original post than i already have, i had to let you know that i finally got in my breast pump today (it was on like a three-month backorder) and totally thought of you. not because i think of you every time i think of boobs or anything, because you mentioned your office always running out of them 😉

  3. rebekah

    1) people tell stories like that because people are assholes. you do what feels right to you as i know you always do. i told helen about your home birthing plans and she was really excited to hear that.

    2) I would totally love it if people equated boobies with thinking of me because thinking about boobies is fun. that would make me fun by default. or something. that avent isis seems to work out for just about every mom we’ve had in our office so I hope you have the same good experience with it!

  4. I love cooking with pumkin – your recipe is very like a carrot cake i have done – using mascapone for the frosting (icing ) also . Nice one. merry christmas !!

    • rebekah

      oddly enough, I thought it tasted quite a bit like carrot cake which is weird since there’s no carrot in it. either way – delicious! merry christmas to your and your family!!

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