This past year, I couldn't find a Jarradale or Jamboree squash at all, so I did some online research on squash and which ones were best for making pie puree. I found a very interesting comparison one woman did, trying out 9 different squash, and making 9 separate pumpkin pies. Her results? Good old butternut squash was, for her, the tastiest, with best pie color. Okay, I can always find butternut squash. I bought one large squash, baked, pureed and came up with enough for 4 pies. I was amazed. Butternut, also, is very dense and smooth. I knew this empirically, but had never paid much attention with an eye to a pie.
I guess by now, you may be wondering what all this reflection on squash varieties is all about. I was getting something out of the freezer the other day and noticed a couple of zip-top baggies of pureed squash tucked in back. This made me think I should make something with it, which led to thinking about what pumpkin recipes I might have. I decided to try Mom Rawstern's recipe for Pumpkin Bars.
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (or use all butter)
2 cups sugar (or substitute part coconut sugar)
2 cups squash/pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons Bourbon, or 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried orange zest
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection). Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter & coconut oil with the sugar(s), until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined before adding the next. Beat in the squash puree. Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients, and then add in three batches to the creamed mixture, beating gently just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While the cake was baking, I wanted to try out something new for a frosting. First, I wanted to incorporate sour cream into the mix, but had never done this before. I wanted a little tang in the flavor. Another thing I wanted to try was making glazed nuts (walnuts or pecans) and then placing them in a food processor to pulverize, then add these to the frosting. I started with the nuts.
Burnt Sugar Glazed Nuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts or pecans
(I used walnuts this time; photo shows pecans from last week's wine tasting)
Cut a large sheet of waxed paper and place onto a counter top. Place the sugar and nuts into a medium sized, preferable non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar melts and caramelizes to deep amber and completely coats the nuts. Once the nuts reach that point, stir for a few seconds more, then remove from the hot burner and continue stirring for 1 minute. Turn the nuts out onto the waxed paper and with 2 forks, separate the nuts. Allow them to cool completely.
***These glazed nuts are wonderful to eat on their own. They are great in salads. You could sprinkle them with cinnamon or other spices, as desired. Do not attempt to add any liquid to the hot nuts or it could be explosive. The sugar has reached extreme temperatures to melt. For my purposes, once cooled, I poured all the caramelized nuts into the food processor with 1 cup of confectioners' sugar and processed until very fine. This way, they would also be wonderful sprinkled over ice cream.
Caramel Walnut Frosting
|Caramel Walnut Frosting|
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cups confectioners' sugar
The whole recipe for pulverized glazed nuts
1 teaspoon bourbon, or vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably medium ground sea salt)
In a heavy duty stand mixer, beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese for 6 - 8 minutes, until very pale and fluffy. NOTE: This will not work properly unless the ingredients are room temperature. Add the sour cream and beat to combine. Add the 4 cups confectioners' sugar and starting on lowest speed for one minute, combining the dry into the creamed mixture. Increase speed to medium high and beat for another 6 to 8 minutes. Pour in the nut mixture, salt and flavoring and beat to just combine. Spread this over the cake once the cake has completely cooled.
The cake and the frosting were delicious. Neither turned out exactly as I had anticipated, but the flavors are excellent in both, and the icing goes excellently with the cake. I would like to try this again, using pecans in the frosting (I had none yesterday when I started this). I might also try using less sugar in the cake. It seemed a little too much, though the flavor is wonderful.
My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.