Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just a hint of fall

We've been waiting very patiently.

Sunscreen containers almost empty.
Sweaters freshly dry cleaned.
Boots polished.
Cozy pashminas organized by color.
New fuzzy socks.

But frigging summer has just been hanging around, laughing.

Until this week. The mornings were gray and cool and the wind was picking up a few stray leaves here and there.  The night air coming in through the open windows in the kitchen had me reaching for a sweatshirt as I wrote this.

Yes, it was still 80 degrees at noon, but here (finally!!!), was just a hint of fall.

Pumpkin Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
In celebration,* I made this.  It, too, has just a hint of fall.  The cake is drop dead simple, super moist, golden and addictive, especially with the salted caramel action in the frosting.  Just the thing to tide you over until fall begins for real**.

For the Pumpkin Butter Cake:
1 package yellow cake mix
1 jar Trader Joe's (or other brand) pumpkin butter
Eggs, butter and water, as per the instructions on your cake mix

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare 60 mini muffin tins, 24 regular muffin tins, two 9 inch round cake pans, or one 13x9 baking pan, by either by adding cupcake liners, spraying with non-stick baking spray, or buttering generously.  Set aside.

Prepare cake mix as directed, substituting in pumpkin butter for half the amount of oil or butter in the instructions.  In my case, for example, the recipe on the box called for 1 c. of oil/melted butter, and I used 1/2 c. of melted butter and 1/2 c. of pumpkin butter.  By the way, when offered a choice between using oil and butter when using cake mix, always choose butter.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full, or, if making a cake, pour all of the batter into your prepared baking pan or pans.  Bake as directed (about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes, 22-25 minutes for regular cupcakes, 35-40 minutes for cake) until golden brown and set.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.

For the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 c. homemade or very good purchased salted caramel sauce (Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel sauce is a nice choice)
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add softened butter, and mix again until well combined.  Add the caramel sauce, and mix again.  Finally, add the powdered sugar, and beat until completely smooth.

Frost cooled cakes, and serve!

Note:  If you want to be totally decadent, drizzle a little caramel sauce onto the warm cake when it comes out of the oven, and spread carefully to form a thin layer on top of the cake.  Cool, and then frost as directed.  I made half of baby cupcakes this way, and they were just insanely good.

Click to print this recipe!

* More importantly, in honor of Blackjack's 6th birthday. We took the mini cupcakes and dog treats to his human and puppy friends at the park.

** Thanks to for the link to another ode to the coming of fall, which begins thusly:

"I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on some f@*#ing gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That s*%! is going to look so seasonal. I'm about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker f@*#er, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it's gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is -- f@#%ing fall. There's a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant f#$@ing squash."

Oh, how I love f@#&ing fall.

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