Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake

By day, I work in a small insurance office, and when I say small, I mean 6 women and the 2 owners.  One of the nice things about working in such a small office is that we are all like extended family to one another.  And, how does a family celebrate a birthday?  With cake, of course!  Or any dessert, really.  We have a nice little tradition here that lets each person know that their birthday is special.  Everyone in the office goes back to the breakroom, at the morning break, to have a dessert prepared by the person who had the last birthday.  We end up staying back there for almost an hour, just talking and laughing and enjoying delicious treats.  I have to say, I am lucky to be surrounded by so many good cooks - the birthday desserts are always fantastic.  But, besides the food, it's the comraderie that stands out.  For that hour, we can forget about the work on our desk, dismiss the stresses for a bit and let the conversations take us wherever they will.  We skip from topic to topic like a jackrabbit on crack sometimes, but it's all good.  We have worked together long enough that it's pretty easy to keep up and follow along. 

My birthday is in September, and the next birthday is in October, today in fact.  The woman I bring for couldn't be easier to please.  Whatever I bring is fine by her, and she is always quick to compliment and say thanks.  When she first started, I found out that she had never had real cheesecake, only the junk that comes out of a box or from Burger King, but she thought those were good.  I was appalled.  No one should have to eat either of those kinds of "cheesecake", let alone think it's good.  I took it upon myself to introduce her to the beauty of a good cheesecake.  That has always been one of my favorite desserts, and I love making them, so it worked out all the way around.  For her first cheesecake, I went with my go-to recipe - Mocha Amaretto Cheesecake.  She loved it so much that for the next 2 or 3 years, I brought her different types of cheesecakes.  Now, I just bring whatever whim strikes me, at that particular moment.  A lot of times, it's related to the Fall season.

That was the case today.  I decided I wanted something pumpkin.  I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Frozen Greek Yogurt, and thought that sounded interesting, but I needed something else to go with it.  Caramel Pumpkin Cake!  That definitely fit the bill.  So, I started culling the internet for recipes.  I finally found one that I liked, but being the crazy nutjob that I am, I couldn't follow the recipe exactly.  Why would I want to do that?  That would go against the very core of my being.  Of course, I made some changes to it.  I'm sure the cake would have been wonderful without my changes.  I mean, it's a pumpkin caramel cake!  What's not to love about that?  How could I make it better?  Add more pumpkin and spices, and make it "Salted" Caramel, that's how!

You may not know this about me, but I have been on 2 major food kicks for quite some time:  anything Buffalo Chicken and anything involving Salted Caramel.  This cake would fit right into my obsession.  Let's get to it!

Here is your Cast of Characters

2 1/2 Cups pumpkin
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup oil
4 Eggs
2 Cups flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup caramel ice cream topping
1 1/2 Teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 Can cream cheese frosting
8 Oz. tub of whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix caramel topping and kosher salt.  Set aside until later.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, slightly.

Add pumpkin, sugar and oil.

Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients.

Beat on low until just combined.  Then turn to medium high for 2 minutes.  Make sure to scrape the sides occasionally.

Pour into greased cake pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese frosting until fluffy.

Gently fold in whipped topping.

Stir until well combined.

When cake is done, poke holes in it while it's hot.  A chopstick works well for this - it's the perfect size.

Warm the caramel sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it flows freely.  Pour over the top of the cake.

Use a rubber spatula to spread caramel evenly.

Let the caramel soak in while the cake cools completely.

You can frost the cake with the whipped topping mixture up to 2 hours before serving.

Sprinkle with nutmeg, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Once plated, drizzle with a little extra caramel sauce, if desired.

Look at those pockets of gooey, salted caramel!!  POCKETS OF SALTED CARAMEL!!  I've died and gone to Heaven!

Lord help me, I might just eat the whole pan!  Served with Pumpkin Frozen Greek Yogurt.  Enjoy!